I’m a little late to the party, but this week I published a zine, ‘Sue Gray’s Partygate Report’, alternatively titled, ‘The Case of the Forbidden Jamborees’.
It’s an illustrated, 44-page zine that’s a satirical parody of the Government’s actual report, ‘Investigation Into Alleged Gatherings On Government Premises During COVID Restrictions’. Unlike the real report, this one actually contains pictures and addresses the elephant in the room – why the hell does this report exist?
My version of Sue Gray’s Partygate Report is available for download here, and from today, for purchase in print on my Etsy shop, Your Dad’s A Tory.
What Is Sue Gray’s Partygate Report?
It’s a satirical zine about UK politics – specifically, the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s Partygate scandal. Unlike Joe Lycett’s highly publicised parody, this one extends well beyond a six point executive summary. It’s a full, 44-page report.
Unlike a traditional parody report, thematically and structurally, this report’s a bit abstract. The premise is a Murder Mystery Party, hosted at No10 by Boris Johnson, during which Sue Gray and various other characters are invited to solve a mystery – whether Ministers and Officials have been partying during national COVID-Sars lockdowns. The party takes place across rooms throughout No11 & No12 Downing Street (where the parties actually happened), with different party and investigation themed scenarios on each page.
The main narrative is prefaced with a fake excerpt from a psychological journal, in a similar theme to JG Ballard’s experimental 1968 piece, ‘Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan’. This is to provide criticism around the premise of the actual ‘Investigation Into Alleged Gatherings On Government Premises During COVID Restrictions’ – an investigation that really wasn’t necessary. Instead, it became a highly publicised waste of time, because the Prime Minister is a liar.
What Qualifies You To Write This?
Here’s the funny bit. I worked in Whitehall for seven years. Although I walked out well before COVID, I’ve been to a lot of parties at Downing Street; either as a Private Secretary or in a comms role. Further, I worked in a couple of Permanent Secretaries’ offices, which in practice means I’ve worked directly with Sue Gray and her former office when she was Director General of Propriety & Ethics at the Cabinet Office.
For a long time, I embraced the culture. I can attest that Whitehall does have a drinking problem. I can’t think of a Thursday or Friday when there wasn’t at least a case of opened Prosecco in the office. Office managers expected staff to come in with a hangover on Friday. It was a given. Hell, I used to end up at the Red Lion or Champagne Charlies on Villiers St almost every night of the working week.
I can also tell you that Cabinet Office and No10 were way boozier than other Departments. That’s why when the investigation was launched, the idea that Whitehall was boozing during lockdown really didn’t surprise me. It’s completely ingrained into the culture.
Why Did You Bother Writing It?
To be honest, I’m not sure. I went for a drink with some former Private Office colleagues a week before the actual early report came out. We were talking about Sue Gray’s investigation and agreed it’d be funny to produce something similar to the political zine I made in late 2019, called ‘Watch Out! Your Dad’s A Tory’.
However, it ballooned significantly beyond the initial scope, a weirder narrative blossomed and in the end, it became a much grander piece than it was intended to be.
What Is The Political Context of Sue Gray’s Report?
For those reading this who don’t understand the context, here’s a brief rundown. Evidence was released that proved that Officials, Special Advisors & Ministers had parties in Government buildings during periods of National Lockdown.
In the UK, from 2020 to 2022 during the global COVID-Sars epidemic, the British Government enforced a series of national lockdowns. These lockdowns significantly curtailed the public’s right to socialise and closed down a huge number of businesses.
At the height of these lockdowns, individuals were unable to see friends, family, visit other peoples’ houses under the penalty of a substantial fine (up to £10,000). Even pubs were closed, which in England is sacrilegious. However, these lockdowns were justified and largely supported by the public to prevent the spread of COVID-Sars, reduce pressures on the NHS and protect vulnerable individuals.
Allegations That Parties Were Held In Government Buildings
In late 2021, rumours and limited evidence leaked showing that parties had taken place on Government property during these national lockdowns. They were alleged to have happened in Downing Street, the Department for Education and HM Treasury. Government wasn’t exempt from lockdowns and neither were Ministers. These alleged parties were illegal gatherings.
Worse, evidence was released showing the Prime Minister at these functions. To deflect responsibility and stave off his forced resignation, Boris Johnson first requested Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary to conduct a review into the alleged events. When it was discovered that Simon Case had attended these parties, he was taken off the investigation and another Civil Servant, Sue Gray was pulled onto it.
Sue Gray’s Report is a pretty dull read, but it found evidence that at least 12 ‘gatherings’ had taken place in Government Buildings during national lockdowns, that Ministers knew about it and that there was a culture of drinking in Whitehall.
Despite the real report’s rather damning findings, nothing’s happened.
Boris Johnson remains the Prime Minister (because seriously, who’s going to replace him?), some Civil Servants were forced to resign and the No10 Press Office’s wine cooler was removed. Right? The wine cooler was removed? Why didn’t they just buy an under the counter fridge? Who is so pretentious that they need a wine cooler? Particularly at work.
The public’s attention has (rightly) moved onto the on going Ukraine Crisis. More, while I hate to be a cynic, I’d wager that the outcome of this geo-political crisis will save Boris Johnson, as the 1982 Falkland’s War arguably secured Margaret Thatcher’s second term as Prime Minister.
But that hasn’t stopped this being a completely farcical episode of British politics. One of this Government’s many farcical episodes – from slashing benefits during a period of unprecedented rises in living costs, fighting to keep disadvantaged children hungry and knighting a man who is unable to distinguish one black man from another.
If you haven’t already given up on British politics or the traditional two party system, I’d suggest that you do now.
Download Sue Gray’s Partygate Report Now
So here’s my gift to you. A free, high effort parody report about the Partygate scandal. Because really, what else could I have done? Stayed working in Government and gone to one of the many parties there?