DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Time to snap out of this party hangover
How many drinkers does it take to make a party? We ask the question because the numbers said to have attended Sir Keir Starmer‘s boozy gathering in Durham last year appear to be swelling.
The initial story was that it was just the Labour leader and a few colleagues enjoying a beer and a takeaway after a long day on the local election campaign trail.
Yesterday, however, Sir Keir admitted the ‘team’ around him comprised six people. Presumably also present were representatives of the constituency association, whose office it was.
Sir Keir Starmer being interviewed by host Sophie Raworth for BBC1. He yesterday admitted the ‘team’ of colleagues he drank a beer with last April comprised around six people
How many in total, then. Ten? A dozen? More? Bear in mind that this was at a time when indoor socialising was banned AND, as the Daily Mail reveals today, there was specific official guidance for the May 6 elections that campaigners should NOT meet indoors.
So how does this get-together differ in principle from Boris Johnson having a drink with senior staff after work in the Downing Street garden during lockdown? Indeed the outdoor setting was surely safer.
Yet Sir Keir demands Mr Johnson’s resignation, while steadfastly refusing to apologise (three times yesterday alone) for his own obvious rule-breaking.
Yes, there were multiple gatherings at Downing Street, some in probable breach of Covid restrictions. But that doesn’t make Sir Keir’s soiree any more acceptable. Or him any less of a steaming hypocrite.
The truth is the public are becoming heartily sick of this unedifying bunfight.
Once mandarin Sue Gray has reported on the affair, Mr Johnson has prostrated himself in humble contrition (again), and those responsible for arranging the parties censured, Britain must move on.
If there’s been one good outcome of ‘Partygate’, it’s that the PM has been forced to rediscover his inner Tory.
Sue Gray, pictured, is the civil servant in charge of the investigation into Downing Street’s ‘Partygate’ scandal
His backbenchers were right behind him in rejecting tougher restrictions despite the arrant scaremongering over Omicron. They are now driving him towards a more ‘red-meat’ Conservative agenda.
Bringing in the Navy to tackle cross-Channel migration. Freezing the television licence fee with a view to abolition. The Levelling Up Bill.
Rewriting human rights laws to make deporting foreign criminals easier. These are all policies that will please party faithful and country. He must make sure words are followed by radical action.
Mr Johnson must also shelter families from the worst of the coming cost of living crisis. A thorough review of green taxes on energy bills and deferral of the impending rise in national insurance would be excellent starting points.
Everywhere is thrilling medical and economic news. Virus infection rates are plummeting and our GDP has returned to pre-Covid levels faster than almost any other Western country. We are ready to fly.
But first we must get past Partygate. This whole saga is giving us all a thumping hangover – without having had the fun of going to the parties. Enough is enough!
An outdated model
It’s hardly surprising that highly paid BBC stars are lining up to defend the corporation against Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ proposal to freeze, and then abolish, the licence fee.
Cultural vandalism, they say. A spiteful assault on impartial journalism. A proxy war to distract from the Government’s many failings. Poppycock!
For Gary Lineker and the rest, £159 a year is nothing. But as former BBC chairman Lord Grade said yesterday, for many families it’s money they could better spend elsewhere. For example, offsetting the forthcoming spike in energy bills.
True, the BBC at its best is an admirable institution. But in this multi-media age, funding it through a regressive and universal tax is surely unsustainable.