Floodgates, Watergates, Surrogates, and Castigates

When my local floodgates opened

First of all, where do all these bloody “Gates” come from?  They are clearly not all offspring of Bill & Melinda, so what’s the deal?

I was reading Caitlin Johnstone’s recent blog on Obamagate  https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/05/14/why-obamagate-will-never-lead-to-anything-of-significance/, which is well worth a read by the way, when her use of the word Surrogate gave me the prod I needed for this piece.  So, thanks Caitlin, it opened the floodgates.

*!?XX**$! Expletive deleted.

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The mother and father of them all is of course Watergate. It got its name from the Watergate Building where two robberies took place leading to the political scandal that started the rot. The robberies happened in 1972 and eventually led to the disgrace and downfall of President Nixon in 1974. 

Since then any old scandal has had “Gate” appended to it by the press to puff out headlines with something that they imagine is witty, snappy, and generally appealing.

A quick stroll through Wikipedia reveals an amazing list of “Gates”, hundreds of them in fact, which just goes to highlight the dearth of imagination of our headline writers on both sides of The Pond.

Have a look if you have the stomach for it. 

To give you a flavour of what could be in store for you, I’ve picked out a few UK-centric items that ring bells for me or which just amused me because they were so stupid.

So, let’s kick off with a devilish deed.

How about Rinkagate in 1976?

Bet that’s got you stumped.

OK, what if I tell you Rinka was a Great Dane?

No, not Hamlet, a dog, a dead dog.  Does that help?

OK what if it was Norman Scott’s dog?  Any use?

Alright, the dog was killed in a bungled attempt to murder an alleged former gay lover of Jeremy Thorpe, the then Leader of the UK Liberal Party.    Thorpe was tried and acquitted but the scandal saw him off as a politician.  The whole affair, so to speak, was christened Rinkagate apparently, although, as an avid follower of such scurrilous stories at the time, I must admit that I cannot remember ever having come across the name.

Now how about the just plain daft?

What about Montreal’s Pastagate controversy?  Apparently, an Italian restaurant was investigated for transgressing the Quebec language laws for using words including calamari and pasta!  This happened in 2013 and you couldn’t make it up, could you?

What about the common people…

or the astonishing discovery that the UK government has no idea what goes on at lunch time in the streets of our cities.

Yes, in 2012 we in the UK were assailed by the shock and horror of…. Pastygate!

This was when the Tory-led coalition Government Chancellor, George Osborne, decided to apply value added tax to still-warm, baked, takeaway goods such as pasties and sausage rolls, much to the dismay of the street eating classes.  Tory ministers were said to be out of touch with the eating habits of ordinary people. Poor old George became a legend in his own lunchtime.

The term Pastygate had a very short currency, almost as short as the proposals in fact, and was subsumed into the greater term Omnishambles that came to cover the whole of that particular budget.

So, where’s the beef?

Staying with a meat theme for a little longer, in 2013 we had Horsegate in the UK.  AKA Horsemeatgate.  There is no doubt about it, having two competing gates for the same scandal weakens the case for both of them.  However, the scandal is worthy of mention.

It turns out that for all the UK food industry’s trumpeting about its high food safety standards, nobody had any idea of what actually ended up in all sorts of prepacked meat products like pies, lasagnes, pasties, etc.

This was a huge scandal, enveloping most if not all of the UK’s supermarkets who were selling 100% beef products that actually contained horse and all sorts of other odds and sods.

I suspect that the “Great British Public” were less concerned about the “all sorts of odds and sods” part of it but were greatly put out by the idea of eating poor little horses.   Clearly horses should only be used in riding schools, as window dressing on farms and for gambling purposes.  Eating horsemeat is just another example of the despicable sort of thing that mainland Europeans do to animals.

Most significantly it served to highlight some very large holes in food processing procedures here in the UK.  No doubt something we have to look forward to once again if we strike a good deal with our chlorinating cousins across the pond.

I’ve saved my favourite to last.

I wonder who squealed?

My pet scandalgate of all was Piggate in 2015 .  This was coined when the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was accused by Lord Ashcroft of having some kind of sexual adventure with a dead pig’s head as part of some dodgy Oxford dining club party/initiation.  The story was published and denied but no legal action followed.

 It shouldn’t happen to a pig!

So, what are we suffering from at the moment?

I’ll tell you what, it’s Surrogate!

The old saying of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” certainly applies to Boris Johnson, our Fridge-loving, Prime-Minister-in-Hiding.   The trouble is no-one knows where he gets to!

Renowned as a basker-in-limelight, he simply goes completely dark when things get a little bit sticky, when there are difficult questions to be answered, when there is a call to arms, or worse, some grasp of detail is called for.

Hence the Surrogate scandal.

Properly a surrogate should be a substitute especially one deputising for another in a specific role or office, but in Johnson’s case we have had to broaden the definition to include anyone daft enough to stand at a lectern and spout absolute drivel on his behalf.   

The general level of raw ambition and stupidity in the Cabinet of Curiosities, mean that there has been no shortage of candidates.   So, we have been subjected to a scandalous array of the incompetent, the incoherent, the dishonest, the inept, all trying to emulate the whole rounded skillset of their leader. 

Unfortunately, scandalously, they are just not up to the job.

No more Surrogate monkeys.

No, not you, Hancock, Sharma, Raab, Gove, Shapps, Williamson, Jenrick., Patel, not even you Sunak, or your chums. You can all see me later!

OK Johnson, come out from behind that kitchen appliance, step up here boy and take your medicine!

We need the organ grinder please. Only you can carry the can.

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