Last year it came to light that Boris Johnson had spent £2.6m on a new Downing Street media room. The idea was that it would enable the Prime Minister to speak directly to the public in regular televised addresses. This is standard practice in America and was hailed as a way to bring transparency to politics. Unsurprisingly, the programme was cancelled before it even began. Apparently, the reason for it’s cancellation was the “political risk” associated with this style of briefing. Labour rightly criticised this move, dubbing the room a vanity project.
Instead, Boris Johnson has used the room for private screenings of the latest films whilst his cabinet have insisted it is not a waste of money. Presumably because it meant they could enjoy No Time to Die without having to mingle with the plebs.
How did the government spend £2.6m on this monstrosity?
The interior looks like it was knocked up in half a day by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. The hanging Union Flags look tacky. The furniture would not look out of place in a motorway service station. All in all, it leaves most onlookers scratching their head as to how it could cost the taxpayer £2.6m. A freedom of information request by the BBC was vague, outlining spending that included:
- £1.8m on the main workings of the room
- £200k on long lead items (if anyone has any idea what this might have included, leave a comment)
- £33k on broadband
This sum of money could buy 50 houses in some parts of England. Instead they spent it on some cheap flags and a blue plush screen from a Turkish brothel. Still, I’m sure it makes for a lovely cinema.
Would you be surprised to hear it has links to Russia?
As with every controversy these days, it seems that this one also has links to Russia. Specifically, the work was carried out by a Russian owned company that has previously delivered technical work for Russian state-controlled broadcasters, including Russia Today. Whilst the Russian state do not seem to have any involvement in this company, and there has been no suggestion of foul play, it is a surprising coincidence.
In any case, there certainly seems to be cause to question whether the tax payer has really received value for money. On the bright side, at least Boris Johnson has a nice place to relax and unwind. Maybe this will stop him having so many parties.