What a mess this government has got into over the affairs leading to the Sue Gray report. We’ll not see the full report for some time as the parties are now subject to a police investigation. The Prime Minister has been sticking to the line that we should all wait for the report before coming to conclusions but that ship has sailed. People have made their minds up about what the Prime Minister has done and what he is. What is yet to be decided is what is to be done about it.
We now know there were even more parties than we did previously and that the Prime Minister attended half a dozen of them. Putting these aside though, there are three things that have come out of the report that should worry us all.
Firstly there is a culture of drinking alcohol within 10 Downing Street. I appreciate that part of the building is home to the Prime Minister yet alcohol and work have not been bedfellows since the eighties. Drinking alcohol during work is not acceptable for obvious reasons.
Secondly and a little more worrying is the culture of secrecy. Democracy runs on open access to a government with strong ethical principles, that follows the rule of law and allows for adequate and effective scrutiny. During this whole episode the story from the Prime Minister has changed from there were no parties to faux contrition and blaming others along the lines that no one told him it was against the rules. Throughout the debacle there has been a deliberate ploy to obfuscate and frustrate.
Thirdly and most worryingly, there are people wandering around 10 Downing street that have no role to play in government, his wife and their decorator for example and who knows who else. Again, the picture is confused by the fact that the building is both an office and a home yet serious questions need to be asked about who has had access to the building, where they have been and what access they have had, intentional or otherwise to government information. The party for the Prime Minister, for example, was held in the Cabinet Room.
Initial findings from Sue Gray’s inquiry point to “failures of leadership and judgement”. The whole affair reflects a lax and unprofessional approach to government.
To be honest I don’t care whether the PM went to one or more parties. What I do care about however is that he has lied throughout the process, broken his own rules and tried to wriggle out of his responsibilities. This does not a good Prime Minister make.