I will never understand what’s going on in the UK

I will also never understand what’s going on in the US. So, after years of incompetence and corruption, the one thing that might crash the insane conservative party in the UK is…a Christmas party?

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to resign over reports that members of his staff attended a Christmas party last year while the country was in lockdown.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that the party took place on Dec. 18, 2020, which would have been illegal under the coronavirus restrictions in place at the time. Johnson has denied the allegation.

The aftermath has already brought down one party official.

In the video, the prime minister’s press secretary and other staff members can be seen holding a mock press conference, discussing how they would respond to allegations that Downing Street had held a Christmas party.

“It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine,” one person can be heard saying, prompting laughs across the room. The leaked video prompted fury from opposition lawmakers and residents alike.

Allegra Stratton, the staff member seen in the video, resigned from her post on Wednesday.

The party of Brexit might be brought down (I expect them to weasel away, though) for their hypocrisy in flouting their own rules? OK, I guess we should be grateful for that.

I can’t single out the UK for this bizarre conservative madness, given the fact that the conservative party over here sponsored an insurrection and none of the instigators are being brought to justice…and in fact, still serve in our legislative bodies. Can we organize a Christmas party for them?

Related: my university division was scheduled to have our annual Christmas party next week. We were recently informed that it has been postponed to January because “COVID cases are on the rise in the area and we want to ensure everyone’s safety”. I think it helps that we have a biologist chairing the division.


  1. Ted Lawry says

    Actually the British do this, huge outrage over seemingly trivial scandles. Years ago MPs were caught getting reimbured for personal purchases which were supposed to be job related expenses. In some cases the purchase amounted to a few pounds!

    Distance lends perspective, I wonder what stupidities the Brits see in us. On second thought, I’m afraid I already know

  2. raven says

    Distance lends perspective, I wonder what stupidities the Brits see in us.

    I’m sure they are deeply grateful that we revolted and formed our own country.

    I’m sure they lay awake nights worrying about fleets of dilapidated sailing ships from the USA, returning former colonists who are now refugees to the United Kingdom.

  3. PaulBC says

    An ill-advised meal at the French Laundry* was nearly Gov. Gavin Newsom’s undoing here in California, so I don’t find this shocking.

    *Yes, I’m oversimplifying, and yes, he survived the recall idiocy by a wide margin. However, this single “gaffe” was a major time sink for CA Democrats and a stressor for anyone thinking “Oh no, not again.” He should have known better.

  4. loop says

    Well, the context was that around the same time, some students were fined £10,000 each for organising an xmas bash, which for them was a potentially life-changing penalty – leave college, bankruptcy etc. All while the clowns who were responsible for the punitive emergency legislation were merrily ignoring it.

    But then, when revealed, they started digging, and I think this is where it got people’s goats. Denying that anything had happened, then denying that any regulations had been broken, then being consistently evasive about it.

    Then the press briefing rehearsal (from a year ago) was leaked, and it was obvious that senior party officials were aware that it had happened, and were preparing in case the press got hold of the story.

    But more interesting is how the story has appeared. First a leak about a party from a year ago, then a few days later, a leak of a year-old video. That video would have been recorded by someone in Boris’s press team. The fact that it suddenly leaked implies that the knives are out, and that certain people in the Tory party have decided that Boris’ time is up.

  5. davidc1 says

    Yeah ,while people are distracted by this bollox ,the twat faced twats busy selling our NHS off to you bastards Americans ,no offense .Also they are well on the way to turning GB into a one party police state .
    @1 I have used finished a book ,Complete And Utter Zebu ,about how we are all being lied to .
    It mentions the expenses . In March 2009 it was revealed that the total amount of mps expenses for the previous year
    amounted to £93 million ,that works out to about £144,000 per mp .
    Granted it included 39p for a paper clip .

  6. KG says

    There’s no chance the Conservative Party will be ejected from government until the next general election – which could be at any time up to December 2024. They have a Commons majority of around 80 – and unlike in the US Senate, they don’t need a 3/5s majority to pass legislation. It’s specifically Johnson who might possibly fall, and “Crackergate” is just the latest example of him and his cronies considering themselves above the law. That, and Johnson’s constant lies, are the issue; and he’ll be pushed out if the Tory MPs themselves decide he’s no longer an electoral asset. My guess is that they won’t do so unless there’s a consistent lead over for Labour in the opinion polls over some months.

  7. KG says

    Actually, there’s a remote chance Johnson could be suspended from the Commons and subjected to a recall election, or even face criminal charges, for some of his corrupt acts as PM and previously as Mayor of London.

  8. davidc1 says

    @7 Yeah ,but who will replace him ? His cabinet are just as crooked and useless as he is ?
    Pretty vacant ,the Nazi in tights ?
    grove ,coked up most of the time ?
    The health minister? He regards books by ayn rand as a kind of wacking material .
    Failing grayling ,gave a multi million contract to a firm to run a ferry service ,only problem
    they didn’t have any ferries .
    The list goes on ,and on .

  9. KG says

    dav id c 1a t8 ,
    My money would be on someone not too closely associated with Johnson, most likely the former health minister (and runner-up to Johnson in the last leadership election), Jeremy Hunt.

    Incidentally, if there was a recall election (which can happen if an MP is suspended from the Commons for at least 30 days (IIRC), and 10% of the registered electors in their constituency then petition for one), that would only be a by-election in Johnson’s constituency. If he lost, he would necessarily be replaced as PM, but the Tories would only have a Commons majority of 2 less than before. He had a majority of 7,210 in his constituency election in 2019 – far from marginal, but not overwhelming.

  10. tinkerer says

    I used to be guilty of being the smug Brit shaking my head at those crazy Americans with their religion, their gun obsession, their Trump-supporting loons and their corrupt government – we had our problems but we were nowhere near as bad.

    However the last few years have opened my eyes to the fact that we are just as bad and it’s many of the same forces which perpetuate the situation. We voted the psychopathic, narcissistic con artist Johnson into power despite it being obvious exactly what sort of person he is, Brexit and it’s associated xenophobia and racism, the disastrous handling of covid, the blatant corruption of the government, and none of it really dented public support for the Tory scum until now. It’s almost as though a significant proportion of the population want to be ruled by an entitled wealthy privileged elite who view them with contempt, just marks to be fleeced.

    As you say, it’s bizarre that killing people by the tens of thousands, dismantling legal safeguards and social safety nets, selling off the health service and stealing taxpayers money doesn’t seem to be a problem, but breaking the rules for a Christmas party was a step too far. I want to join a different species, this one’s crap.

  11. jrkrideau says

    @ 5 Davidc1
    In March 2009 it was revealed that the total amount of mps expenses for the previous year
    amounted to £93 million ,that works out to about £144,000 per mp

    Was that when some MP expensed having the moat cleaned?

  12. birgerjohansson says

    It gets better….just days after the christmas party scandal, an investigation has concluded that the tories broke the rules when The Idiot let a billionaire pay for the luxury refurbishment of the PM’s official living quarters. And Starmer cunningly got the PM on record denying he received £££ from antibody else for the refurbishment. So the PM is on record having lied ro the parliament.
    He will remain prime minister for several months, as the party bigwigs ponder the options for replacing him. The problem is, there is no single candidate that looks good enough. Johnson is an incompetent crook, but he had enough charisma to fool the voters in the last election.
    The other candidates are as repugnant, but lacks charisma. Priti Patel is outright insane, and is the closest thing Britain has to Trump (but without the glib tobgue).

  13. birgerjohansson says

    A big flock of pigs just took to the air!
    The Express, a tory newspaper that has backed brexit all the way today pointed out the EU countries are thriving while UK trade has shrunk.
    Maybe, just maybe they are getting pragmatic, as they realise BoJo has painted them into a corner.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    Tinkerer @ 10
    “I want to join another species”
    Bowhead whales!
    They can live 200 years. Science had an article about them and ‘rockfish’, and the genes and evolutionary pressures that have made their extreme longevity possible.
    Or, if you want to get even and get extremely aggressive, a very big honey badger.

  15. davidc1 says

    @9 jemery hunt ,wasn’t he the one caught on video snogging his aide ?
    @11 Yeah ,I think he was the one that try to claim for a Duck house as well .
    @13 Yes but was do the daily hail and the stun say .
    And we have the fun of a by election next week ,in a constituency that has always
    returned a tory mp ,there is a good chance that they might lose it to the libdems .
    A lot of people are pissed that while last year they followed the guidelines laid down
    by the govt ,the tories were breaking said rules ,plus people who lost family members
    were unable to see them before they died .

  16. davidc1 says

    @10 Speak for yourself ,I didn’t vote for the tories ,in fact only something like 43% voted for them .
    FPTP gave him a 80 seat majority .

  17. birgerjohansson says

    Just in:
    Andrew Griffith , an ex-tory MP and minister abused and raped his wife, a judge has concluded.

  18. microraptor says

    PaulBC @3: To be fair to Newsom, the Republicans were going to run a recall campaign on him no matter what. That’s just one of their major strategies against Democratic governors now.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the one thing that might crash the insane conservative party in the UK is…a Christmas party?

    Would it make more sense to USAians if we started a rumor that somebody gave, and somebody got, a blow job at this party?

  20. says

    On the one hand, I doubt that the Christmas party would have caused enough outrage to stir things up if it hadn’t been for all the rest of the laundry list of things the Tories have been doing for the last decade. In order to really stir up the populace, the UK* has to admit not only that the population made massive electoral mistakes not just in the last two elections but in the Brexit referendum, and also admit that, contrary to their longstanding bragging point, the Parliamentary form of government has not protected them in the slightest from extremism or authoritarianism. (We have a similar situation here in the US, so davidc1 please don’t assume I’m knocking your country exclusively — we’re never going to fix anything until Republicans admit they are wrong and a majority of Democrats admit that in the American context Centrism is actively bad, and the percentage of party membership who are willing to even consider those as hypotheticals is vanishingly small.) That’s a very, very bitter batch of pills to swallow.

    *Note for people who don’t follow UK politics: when you say “the UK” in a political context, you really basically mean “England” at this point. The main Parliament can override the devolved Parliaments of Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland at will and the English parties will unite across party lines to slap down the other Parliaments whenever they try to strike a path towards sanity, as evidenced plentifully by what has been done to Scotland during the pandemic. In the main Parliament, 85% of the seats are English, and the proportion of membership at any given time is actually even higher because the most successful party in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, is pro-independence and refuses to actually send representatives. (For good reason; until the last few decades pro-independence Irish politicians could be and routinely were arrested, and the Tories periodically send up trial balloons about doing that again.)

    But on the other hand: the English have always loved a certain kind of corruption, and Labour — which, for clueless Americans, plays approximately the role of the Democrats to the Tories’ Republicans — is currently only not as bad as the Tories because Keir Starmer is too timid to follow Johnson’s lead — like Johnson, Starmer clearly believes there is no meaningful difference between the parties, and that competence does not matter as a qualification for leadership, but he’s not willing to let it all hang out and ignore the rule of law in public. (According to Labour’s own publications post-Starmer’s selection as leader, literally everything which was used to oust Corbyn from his leadership role in order to install Starmer was verifiably a lie traceable to Starmer and his supporters, and they even did some Cambridge Analytica-style targeted lies online to hide themselves from the party leadership while they were doing it. This is particularly bad because Corbyn was, by the cold hard numbers, the most effective opposition leader the UK has ever had, more defeats of the government per week than any other, even Thatcher who held the previous record, while Starmer literally refuses to oppose the Tories most of the time, and won’t even go on record to say what the party stands for under his leadership. Polls show that even with the Tories being so blatantly terrible, a significant portion Labour refuses to unite under Starmer because of his blatant underhandedness and lack of actual difference with the Tories, and that’s honestly as it should be because people who do what Starmer did should not be permitted to run political parties.) There’s no prospect of relief in sight — the Tories and Labour have an overwhelming majority of the vote stitched up via party loyalty, and the largest of the small parties, the Liberal Democrats, are basically the equivalent of Sinema, campaigning on resistance to the Tories but cooperating with them as soon as they get into office.

  21. sarah00 says

    @15, I think you’re thinking of Matt Hancock.

    @10 While I think there’s been a lot of removing of rose-tinted glasses from the eyes of many Brits (myself included) I also think that things politics have descended to levels unseen in many a year. British politics has always been self-serving but we do seem to be going through a particularly bad patch. The Tories, while clearly incompetent on many levels, have been incredibly productive in their push to make our country a much more oppressive place to live. The Borders and Nationality Bill passed in the House of Commons yesterday and I struggled to find a news story about it, everyone was so fixated on Partygate. That said, I don’t buy the dead cat hypothesis – I do think that Johnson really is this incompetent, it’s not some master strategy of diversion – not least because even when this isn’t happening the press isn’t paying attention. The ability to strip British people of their citizenship if they didn’t have dual citizenship elsewhere was passed in the Immigration Act 2014 – the new Bill just lets them do that without notifying the person first. I don’t remember any particular outcry back then and that was before Brexit and long before Covid. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will soon pass too, effectively outlawing lawful protest (among a whole raft of other awful things). And as @5 davidc1 says, they’re also in the process (once again) of trying to sell off the NHS. Johnson’s outrageous incompetence is merely a handy distraction away from those who have been working steadily to make the UK a worse place to live unless you’re not rich and powerful.

  22. chrislawson says

    The ol’ “it couldn’t happen here.” I remember feeling the same way about Australia, that we would never descend to the depths of the US. And while we haven’t fallen as far, but we’ve certainly fallen. And I’m seeing deliberate attempts to import American anti-democratic strategies such as requiring photo ID to vote (again, there is zero evidence of voter fraud in Australia — this is nothing more than an attempt to stop disenfranchised people from voting).

    I like to call the US, the UK and Australia the Murdochsphere. He is absolutely the biggest factor behind the dissolution of those countries’ political systems over the last 2-3 decades. Everything in Australian politics got worse within a few years of us loosening foreign ownership and media concentration laws, allowing Murdoch to tighten his control over Australian news sources. Since then, Murdoch has increased his share to 70% of all capital city news, and keeps buying regional papers, moving to a regressive subscription model that nobody wants to pay, and then shutting them down (but not before firing every journalist or columnist who isn’t right-wing) leaving only the capital city news as an option.

    And it’s not just Anglosphere culture, because countries in the Anglosphere with effective media concentration laws do not degenerate politically to nearly the same extent: Canada, New Zealand, Ireland — they’re not perfect by any means, but they don’t have this all-pervasive media antipathy to progressive values.

  23. kingoftown says

    @22 The Vicar
    Sinn Fein aren’t Northern Ireland’s biggest party, that would be the DUP. People from GB were painfully reminded of their existence a couple of years ago when Theresa May used them to prop up her government. Fortunately after shooting themselves in the foot over brexit and a shitshow of a leadership contest, the DUP has lost its lead in the polls and Sinn Fein may become the largest party next election.

    They’re also doing well in the republic and could well end up the largest party in both jurisdictions.

  24. derferick says

    @5 Davidc1, please don’t take this the wrong way but I am intrigued. In your book are you using the “space comma”? What has your editor said about it?

  25. davidc1 says

    @23 Yes ,sorry ,but to be honest ,one tory slimy git is very much like every other slimy git .
    @26 HAHA ,I should have said finished reading a book ,too be honest I am a bit loose and fast in my use

    of the English language .
    For example ,I have no idea what you mean by the “space comma “.
    Another example ,using a sun headline
    “It was the sun wot done it “,I know that is not the correct use of English ,but I couldn’t tell you why .

  26. KG says

    @9 jemery hunt ,wasn’t he the one caught on video snogging his aide ? – davi dc 1@ 15

    N o, th atwa sMa ttHa nco ck.

  27. opposablethumbs says

    @22 The Vicar and @25 kingoftown have hit a lot of nails exactly on the flat bit opposite the pointy end.

    The only minor detail I would add is that I think a lot of the reason the xmas party affair may hit more, and more lasting nerves with more people, than most of the other tory corruption and misconduct, is that it’s visceral for large numbers of the public: the corruption might feel a bit distant or abstract, but almost everyone had the personal, direct experience of either having to cancel seeing loved ones in the lockdown (announced too late, as usual) of xmas 2020, or if they didn’t suffer it themselves, they certainly knew someone who did; and of course no-one could visit care homes, much less visit people in hospital.

    And this was at a time when covid death rates were among their highest.

    So for quite a few people, the infamous video of staffers laughing in the multi-million pound ‘press room’ (that Stratton never otherwise appeared in) meant they were seeing those in authority laughing (“at us”) while their (or their friends’ or neighbours’) parents and grandparents were dying alone. I can’t begin to imagine how bereft and angry and guilty I would feel, knowing I had obeyed the rules and left someone to die alone, sincerely believing the “we’re all in it together” line only to find out that those in charge were partying and laughing about it.

    There are a lot of people who might not care about, or even quite admire, the tories’ corruption but feel personally about it when presented with actual footage of the government (or the government’s representatives) laughing at them.

  28. louis14 says

    PZ. Why it’s stirring people up so much is this. At the time, the restrictions in place meant that we not only couldn’t attend gatherings inside, but couldn’t even visit our loved ones dying in hospital, or could only attend that loved one’s funeral on Zoom. Things were that draconian (with reason). And at the same time, Downing Street folks we now find, were having parties. And even now, people like the disgusting Jacob Ress-Mogg are joking about it.

  29. PaulBC says

    opposablethumbs@29 Somehow rightwingers in the US are able to get away with laughing at people dying, so maybe the UK has that on us. As for something like a Christmas party, the only politicians who pay a penalty for breaking pandemic rules are liberals perceived as hypocrites.

    In a sane world, it should have been the end of it when that couple took fish tank cleaner linked directly to Trump’s advice. Also, it turns out Trump knew he was COVID positive when he debated Biden, but no penalty for that either. Total death cult (and don’t get me started on guns).

  30. PaulBC says

    davidc1@27 The question refers to your practice of putting a space before the comma instead of after. I’ve been curious all this time but thought it rude to ask.

  31. opposablethumbs says

    @PaulBC 31, the UKnian variety may well get away with it yet :-\
    in practice the tories will probably throw one or two more minor figures under the bus and hang on to the scum-in-chief for the moment, then drop him swiftly whenever they judge it best for the party (not best for the country of course; just for the party). sounds familiar I expect :-s
    death cult co-religionists here too, not yet so numerous but just as dodgy

  32. davidc1 says

    @31 There are lots of reports on faceache of people drowning trying to cross to GB using small rubber boats ,
    you should read some of the comments left by some of the arseholes complete with smiley faces .
    Plus they are outraged at the RNLI going out to save them ,saying they will never give any money to the RNLI
    ever again .
    Don’t know if you are aware of the RNLI ,it is a charity manned by volunteers that go out in all weathers to rescue
    people in peril at sea .

    And I still don’t know what you mean by space before comma ,could you write something the way like wot I do .

  33. davidc1 says

    @35 They are them minute little critters that are indestructible ?
    I think they would make a fine subject for study by some bad tempered
    scientist in the upper mid west .

  34. richardh says

    @37 “they will never give any money to the RNLI ever again”
    but to be fair to the British public, the RNLI then received a massive surge in donations. I think they should use the money to build a new lifeboat and name it after Nigel Farage, who was probably the cause of most of the increase.

    (Note, I said name it after Farage, not name it Farage. I’m sure someone can come up with suitable wording…)

    “space before comma ,could you write something”
    Most people would write
    “space before comma, could you write something”