My hometown Çankırı, a central Anatolian province, has been not only on Turkey's agenda in recent years but also on that of world politics. Some may know that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the grandson of an Ottoman, with his family roots going back to Çankırı’s Orta district.
When Johnson was elected as the leader of the Conservative Party and later became the prime minister of the United Kingdom, the eyes of the world media turned to Çankırı. Journalists rushed to interview Johnson's fellow countrymen. I am also from the Orta district of Çankırı and am familiar with the stories about Johnson's dynasty.
While the worldwide successes of Johnson’s family, known as the “Sarıoğlangiller” (sons of the blonde ones) among the villagers, are frequently mentioned, I am choosing not to dwell on such common points, instead, I will address some of the issues Johnson is facing in these difficult times.
Earlier this week, I wrote an article for The Spectator magazine about Johnson, who is currently embroiled in the “partygate” scandal. The place and time of the article are important because The Spectator is the world's oldest weekly magazine and has generally been supportive of the Conservative Party.
Interestingly, Johnson, who has an interest in journalism like his great-grandfather Ali Kemal, entered politics through this magazine. He was the editor-in-chief of The Spectator from 1999 to 2005. He later became the mayor of London. Then he became a deputy from the Conservative Party and reached the top in politics.
Currently, Johnson is going through the hardest days of his political career because of the "partygate" scandal.
Putting all this data together, as a Turkish journalist, I wanted to write about how the issue looks from the outside and Ankara's point of view in the most meaningful place and time possible. I will share my ideas in a neutral way without favoring him in any way due to our shared heritage.
Well, what is "partygate"? How does it look from the outside? What did I defend in The Spectator, the Conservative Party's castle of thought? Let me share more insight.
Johnson was found to have attended a number of parties at a time when coronavirus measures prohibited most gatherings, even at home. Johnson, who is already grappling with the consequences of the Brexit debacle and is politically weak, drew the anger of a considerable part of the opposition and the public.
Indeed, according to the opposition, the prime minister did not abide by the rules that he had set and was accused of blatantly lying on television. However, Johnson took the real blow from his inner circle. His former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, claimed that the prime minister attended a party on May 20, 2020, despite all his warnings, while COVID-19 measures were still in effect. “Johnson was warned that the party was against the rules,” he said.
With a vote of confidence, Johnson's forced resignation, an intra-party coup and all kinds of allegations flying in the air, the political winds are blowing hard in Britain. However, in my opinion, the reaction is a little harsh
In summary, I understand the ethical discussion the issue brings up and the reason for the anger at Boris, but I reminded myself of how previous prime ministers came out unscathed after bigger scandals and lies. For example, Tony Blair plunged his country into the Iraqi quagmire according to a well-known report. He was one of the main actors of the Iraq invasion, which dragged the region into chaos for decades. If someone lied, it's him. However, this issue has not been featured on the agenda as much as Johnson's parties.
I asked myself, does the U.K., which boasts of its distinctive democracy, really wants to oust an elected prime minister from his seat because of parties and cakes? Especially, given the fact that Johnson was one of the first leaders to lend a helping hand to Kyiv in these unprecedented times when the possibility of a Russian invasion in Ukraine looms large.
I hope Britain shows the world that it is not a nation that's lost all sense of proportion.