Boris Johnson, The Sun Newspaper, Partygate and James Slack

This story is not about comic books. But when I tweeted about it early, Neil Gaiman retweeted it, so somehow it counts. Currently, in the UK, the Conservative Government is under considerable pressure within and without, over accusations they held internal parties for staff members, at a time when the nation was instructed to be in lockdown and unable to meet friends and family. In some cases, that meant not being with dying relatives. Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has even been told he should resign by senior members of government. And yesterday more allegations emerged that two staff leaving parties, with drinking and sanding into the early hours, were held in government offices on the night before the funeral of Prince Phillip. A funeral which saw Queen Elizabeth alone, mourning the death of her husband. All media organisations have been covering the story with gusto for weeks, though The Sun newspaper has been unusually reticent, only covering the story when ministers started to address it, and not with their usual iconoclastic spirit.

Boris Johnson, The Sun Newspaper, Partygate and James Slack
A Boris Johnson cartoon from a Partygate a few weeks ago.

But its latest report, without any journalist being credited for it reveals so much, but for a relatively long article, you have to get to the final short paragraph before all the elements slot into space. Read it here if you want, spoilers ahead if you don't.

The report states that one of the parties was held for his former director of communications James Slack, quoting Slack as saying "I wish to apologise unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused. This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry, and take full responsibility." And then it ends with that final paragraph, that final sentence that reveals so much more. "Mr Slack is now Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sun." It was a party… for him.

Which, for journalists is the ultimate crime. Not that he was party to a party, one that broke the very rules set by the people breaking those rules. But that, as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sun he had been sitting on this story for almost a year without running it – and let the Daily Telegraph scoop them. Rather slack… of Mr Slack. Nominative determinism at work? The Guardian states that "colleagues claim that other members of the Sun's management team were only informed about their deputy editor's Downing Street leaving party when contacted by the Daily Telegraph on Thursday afternoon." Oh and to bring this back on brief, what have some comic book creators been saying about the various partygates?

  • John Reppion: Unless Boris Johnson is actually going to be rocketed into the sky to explode and then rain down on London like a literal shower of sh-te, I don't feel like there are any consequences he could face that would be fitting. We're beyond "holding him to account". He does not care.
  • Mike Collins: Pathetic Boris Johnson wannabe lookalike Michael Fabricant has gotten his wig handed to him by @ShelaghFogarty. His breezy, insulting manner to real tragedies in talking up the No.10 party might actually have done even more damage to the PM than help.
  • Si Spurrier: I'm very sorry to be the voice of cynical balance here, but if you think Getting Found Out For Breaking The Rules will turn Johnny Gammon against Boris then you haven't spoken to Johnny Gammon. He's sitting at home today saying "So what? Everyone broke the rules. Why not him?"
  • PJ Holden: "This really is a great party we're having I'm glad no one is working here! Whhohhoo! Let's all get drunk and throw our keys in the centre!" The prime minister would like to state when he said "party" he meant "work event" and "glad no one is working" he meant "everyone" and…"
  • Roger Langridge: Can you imagine one of those parties, though. Coked-up posh boys trying to mount the toaster while crying and shouting "mummy"
  • Andrew Wheeler: It's becoming clear that the Tories didn't think there was anything wrong with the party on May 20th because no-one had said anything about the parties on the 19th, the 18th, the 17th, the 16th…
  • PJ Holden: I do wonder how much more is still to come. I feel like the final push will be a video. It's Carrie I feel sorry for, can she be getting any sleep with all those parties going on at home?

And to bring it back to Gaiman, as all things do, Good Omens stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen reunited for a Staged New Year's Day special on YouTube – when one commented that one had cheese, and the other had wine, then this made it a business meeting, that was a reference to one of the previous excuses given for a cheese and wine party held in Whitehall…

 

 

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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