So what can we expect from the investigation currently being undertaken by Sue Gray, a civil servant and employee of Johnson, into Johnson and his serial partying during lockdown?
Frankly, very little. For two reasons.
Firstly because the investigation was commissioned and launched in order to allow Johnson to prevaricate in parliament. We must wait for the findings he proclaims whenever a pertinent question is asked.
This is of course standard practice for all politicians and one factor in the lack of trust which would appear to be shared by the majority of the electorate.
But it is the second reason which is fundamental to our expectations, and it is essentially about marking their own homework.
Sue Gray is not independent. She is a career civil servant. She has no power to sanction anyone. Her role is tightly defined and it is to lay out the facts.
This should not take long. After all, the facts are already in the public domain and have not been denied. Indeed, Johnson has already confirmed that he attended the party on 20 May 2020. (He also spluttered that he thought it was a ‘works do’, which tells you something about his definition of work but ignorance of the law is no defence.)
No schedule has been established for this inquiry. It will take as long as it takes. And if it does its job, Johnson will not be in a hurry to draw a line under the whole sorry episode. Or episodes.
She will not be helped by the fact that staffers at No 10 have been instructed to clean up their phones (an activity with which Ms Gray is frighteningly familiar), and you can bet that Johnson’s diary will be packed with excuses for being unavailable for interview.
This shouldn’t matter. Ms Gray works in No. 10. She knows what’s going on. She is a member of the elite, part and parcel of the cabal. And the more I hear Tory MPs telling us that she is the best person for the job, the more I distrust both her and the process.
But let’s assume that her laying out out of the facts is accurate, timely and damning. Then what?
Ask Priti Patel. The person who will have to act on the findings will be Boris Johnson. And as with Patel’s bullying, he will decide to move on.
Nothing to see here. No action taken.
Today from the everysmith vaults: The death of Bernard Haitink is very sad news indeed. As he said, he suggested rather than instructed. Delving into the vault I am amazed at how many of my favourite recordings were performed under his baton. Today, it is A Sea Symphony by Vaughan Williams, with The London Philharmonic and the wondrous Felicity Lott.
PS Just as I was about to press the post button, news of yet another party at Downing Street emerges. I worked in advertising agencies in the '70s, where and when to say that a drinking culture prevailed would be an understatement. But we never had this many parties.