At a time when the British public should be laser-focused on Ukraine, recovering from the pandemic, and dealing with inflation and the rising costs of living, they are being led by the press and politicians to be mired in a never ending so-called ‘partygate scandal’. Partygate is a good issue for galvanising the public because the act of breaking a rule on gatherings during the pandemic is something like Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. It is easy to understand and to form an opinion. No need to ask an expert.
However, in the larger scheme of world and UK events, it seems to me – as an American in Britain – to be a relatively petty issue, blown way out of proportion to the offence, and symptomatic of a pathological obsession with social control. Democracies and voters can be pragmatic – a quality the British once owned – and forgiving. Instead, this little nanny state obsession appears to characterise a large proportion of voters, reporters, and politicians.
Trust and confidence in politicians are important. If enough voters fail to trust their public officials, they vote them out. However, that vote depends on all voters judging the actions of public officials over a sustained period time and relative to their opponents in an election. But opposition politicians, pundits, and citizens interviews chosen to be broadcast on the nightly news should not replace elections. If you are angry for whatever reason, and if you don’t like or otherwise oppose the PM, I can understand that you may want to find any means of ousting him. However, that is not the way liberal democracies should work. It is a remedy that would usher in even greater instability than already pervades UK politics.
Return to the pragmatism that has served the UK so well in past decades. This scandal is not worthy of the time and attention it is getting. It is dysfunctional for the country even if it engages television viewers and gives opposition politicians a way to change the subject. Stop ‘partygate’ and focus on the big issues for the future of your country.