Boris Johnson, long known as the greased piglet of British politics thanks to his ability to escape difficulties, is more of a slippery old hog nowadays, not so quick but still in his fattened state able to wriggle free.
His latest piglet-squeak swerve comes with the Met Police announcement that the partygate inquiries are finished, and he will not face another fine.
Downing Street, where it is said that Johnson works, has been handed 126 fines for law breaches on eight occasions, with 53 fixed-penalty notices for men and 73 to women.
Civil servants and special advisers who attended the same events as Johnson have been fined, but once again he has slipped through hands that would hold him to account. They were fined for being there and he was not (although he has an existing fine).
How did the Met plod their way to this decision? Was Johnson given one fine just to avoid accusations of favouritism but no more because he is Boris Johnson? All those parties, all those fines; and the lathered culprit slips away again.
The usual exceptionalism; rules for everyone else, a greased exit for the man in charge. Those civil servants and advisers are reported be pissed off and puzzled, especially the younger ones who did what they thought was right in owning up, only to find they’d been dumped in the Downing Street cesspit, while the higher-ups shut the door and walked away.
The Met’s late decision to investigate the partygate claims scuppered the report from the senior civil servant Sue Gray, which should have been out in January. She’d been about to deliver her findings, but the Met asked her to hold back, so she was confined to a hasty summary.
This suited Johnson’s game-plan of hoping everyone forgives and forgets or at least forgets; forgiveness will be too much for anyone who obeyed the rules at great personal cost, only to find that the man in charge had little intention of sticking by his own rules.
He wanted us to be bored with all of this, and perhaps we are. But if Sue’s Gray report had come out when it was meant to, its impact would have been greater.
Any why should the prime minister get away with things just because we become bored? The same way we weary of the details of all the terrible things this government does because details are trying and concentration takes effort, and we cannot be bothered to pay attention. What other explanation can there be?
Is Johnson now free from the partygate scandal? The Gray report should reveal a fuller picture of those law-breaking parties at Number 10, and a cross-party investigation is yet to decide if he knowingly misled parliament when he denied any rules were broken in Downing Street.
What if, say, more photographs were to emerge, perhaps showing Johnson at one of the parties with a bottle in hand? Such pictures surely exist, and maybe one of the fined minions or aides will let one slip out.
Perhaps Johnson will squeal away one more time, but people are tiring of his fake-bumbler bluster, they are turned off by his sense of entitlement. As times get tough, a self-entitled greased piglet grown large will look even more out of place; won’t he? I do hope so.