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|Date: July 2017|
|A crisis emerging from an attempt by a group of influential ministers (calling themselves the National Executive Committee of the Egalitarian Party or the Glastieve Secret Service) to prevent a planned takeover of the GCA's government by minister John Matthews and his undersecretary Alfie Knowles|
|In support of the takeover:|
Opposed to the takeover:
The Matthewsgate controversy, referred to some in formal records as the July 2017 controversy involving John Matthews and Aflie Knowles, was a political controversy in July 2017 surrounding the culmination of an attempt by John Matthews and Alfie Knowles to take over the government of the Glastieve Cultural Association by damaging the reputation of several government ministers who they perceived as being the de facto leaders of the GCA and usurping their positions of influence over Acteriendia. The initial plan collapsed several days before the end of the controversy, although on 16 July, in what The Glastieven claimed constituted a "coup d'état", Matthews briefly declared himself the President of Glastieve, before announcing he was leaving the GCA. Initially, the label "Matthewsgate" applied only to the events on the evening of 16 July that had occurred after the failure of Matthews' and Knowles' initial plan, but it is now used to refer to the entire dispute that started in mid-July once the Glastieve Secret Service discovered and began working against the conspiracy.
Matthewsgate is considered to have been one of the most important events in the history of Glastieven Acteriendia and the GCA. Until Project Zeta and its associated consequences in November, the controversy was recognised as having been the most significant in the history of the organisation, with analyses, cultural references and memes about Matthewsgate being a visible aspect of the wider Glastieven political identity and colouring political debate about Matthews, Knowles and Kavanah long after more relevant events had occurred. In October, there was even a brief Matthewsgate revival in historical analysis and political debate that followed the September Scare and renewed concern that the GCA's politics might cause damage to Acteriendia. The events of the controversy are now associated with the toxic relationship between the GCA and Acteriendia during most of 2017, and Matthewsgate is frequently the subject of empirical analysis that compares it to other GCA-era controversies and modern-day issues in Glastieve, with the term "Matthewsgate 2.0" political shorthand for any feared crisis emerging from a dispute between influential and troublesome Glastievens.
The Cabinet of Glastieve, the primary legislative and executive organ of the Glastieve Cultural Association in early July, towards the end of the Partisan Period, was composed officially of eight people, seven of whom were active: Will Campbell (who was using the fake name Mark Kavanah, which, for consistency, will be used in this article as well), Daniel Carter (who was using the fake name Tom McMillan, which, for consistency, will be used in this article as well), Michael Howe, Genevieve Unak, Robert Catcheside, Isabella Wall and John Matthews. Matthews, who led the Department of National Identity, Insignia and Language (which he referred to as Doniial, pronounced /dɒnaɪɑːl/, in what was frequently parodied), also employed Alfie Knowles as his Undersecretary. The initial politics that would lead to Matthewsgate involved all the active members of the GCA except for Wall and had its roots in earlier tensions and disputes reaching as far back as 2015.
From a political perspective, Matthews was seen as something of a black sheep in the GCA. He had been the Minister for Governmental Administration (which he referred to as DoGA, pronounced /doʊgə/, in what was frequently parodied) at the country's foundation and was, then, seen as likely to be one of the most active and reliable ministers. This reputation was damaged by the Spingate controversy, where he was exposed as having lied on his department's website and in Cabinet meetings. In addition, it made public his tensions with Howe and shifted general feeling away from him. When Howe proposed a motion of no confidence in Matthews in July, it narrowly passed, which saw him announce he was leaving the GCA. Initially, Matthews refused to return unless he was given his old job back; naturally, there was no political desire to acquiesce to his request. However, in the GCA Cabinet reshuffle, May 2017, Matthews was brought back to replace Charlotte Bourner, who had de facto left Glastieve during the April 2017 controversy, and he became the Minister for National Identity, Insignia and Language.
Matthews immediately started to, from his perspective, accrue power within the government. He re-branded the department as "Doniial" (/dɒnaɪɑːl/) in a similar vein to DoGA, created a logo for the department and employed Alfie Knowles as the Departmental Undersecretary, in a rare instance of a civil servant actually being an active contributor to the GCA. His intention was to establish Doniial as the most powerful department in the government, and started to include increasingly tenuous aspects of policy under the department's assigned portfolio of "National Identity," in a similar way to how Kavanah and Catcheside had used the label of "Communications" in a similar way to the Tony Blair Government in the UK. For example, Matthews proposed a taxation act which would have put Doniial and the Department for Economics, Finance and Governmental Communications (incorrectly referred to as DoMAE, an otherwise unofficial abbreviation for the former Department for Media and Economics) as equally allowed to set taxation policy.
Matthews was not either subtle or polite in expressing his often contentious opinions and was also developing a justified reputation for being deliberately provocative; ergo, combined with his ambitious tendencies, he had clearly-defined friends and enemies. Before a political scandal known as Unakgate, Matthews disliked Allen and Isabella, although the animosity was generally both one-directional and dismissive, and had a strong and unpleasant rivalry with both Howe and Unak. He disliked McMillan, although McMillan himself was willing to work with Matthews, and he got on well with both Catcheside and Kavanah. Without delving into the intricate complexities of the Acteriendian cultural group's history any further than necessary, it is also helpful to note a historic animosity between Unak and Catcheside that, although nuanced, at the time took the form of a rivalry (which would later be humorously compared to Kismesissitude from Homestuck).
Meanwhile, the partisan structure that had been introduced as a result of the UK's General Election was being used as an excuse by Kavanah and Catcheside, and to a lesser extent by McMillan and Howe, to circumvent the duality of posts precedent and all function as a single "Communications team," which was something of a cross between a group of spin doctors and a secret service. This group functioned either as the Glastieve Secret Service (GSS) or as the National Executive Committee of the Egalitarian Party (Egalitarian Party NEC) depending on convenience, but it was the same group of people: Catcheside, Kavanah, McMillan and Matthews/Howe. Before Unakgate, Matthews was involved; after Unakgate, Howe became involved as the group positioned itself in opposition to Knowles and Matthews.
Unakgate was a failed attempt by Matthews to persuade Kavanah to trick Unak into leaving Acteriendia. Kavanah claimed it would be immoral to even try and unlikely to succeed, but Matthews was initially successful in persuading Catcheside to agree with him. Catcheside was on the fence, as he claimed he thought it might be necessary to maintain stability in the group. Kavanah, however, managed to prevent it from being put to a vote by persuading Catcheside to vote to remove Matthews from the Egalitarian Party NEC for misconduct - the misconduct being the attempting to have Unak removed undemocratically and through spin. Matthews, in response, had Knowles join the Egalitarian Party (which left only Allen in the Pragmatic Party and nobody in the Acteriendian Party) and positioned Doniial as the main opposition to the GSS (which was the same as the NEC). In everybody's minds, the battleground was drawn, although Unak, Wall and Allen remained unaware of the intricacies of the dispute, including Unakgate.
With the GSS firmly dominant in Glastieve itself, and McMillan, Unak, Wall and Allen unlikely to vote for any overtly political motions, even if they were part of a bargaining process that might have persuaded Catcheside, Howe and Kavanah, Matthews and Knowles planning to work through Acteriendia. Although not officially documented, anecdotal evidence from Kavanah, Catcheside, McMillan, Howe, Knowles and Matthews all suggests that they were choosing to damage Kavanah and Catcheside's standing outside of Glastieve in the hope of causing their influence within Glastieve to decline and allowing Doniial to usurp the GSS as the main political force, with the intention of being respected and influential enough to persuade the remainder of the Cabinet to appoint Matthews the President of Glastieve. This plan has been loosely referred to as a coup d’état, but was more realistically a plan to open a war of attrition outside Glastieve with Kavanah and Catcheside that he thought he could win. This "war" went on for around a week in mid-to-early July before official action was taken by the GSS.
Events leading up to the evening of 16 July
By 12 July, it was felt by the GSS that Matthews' and Knowles' blatant attempts over the recent period to attack Kavanah and Catcheside and to gain power within Glastieve were serious enough that they required official recognition. It was feared that, if they were able to engineer a split that could recruit other members of the Cabinet, a political collapse akin to the April 2017 controversy might be caused as a result of the increasingly Machiavellian schemes employed by Matthews to attack his targets outside of Glastieven politics. The Egalitarian Party NEC formulated a plan: expose and isolate John Matthews so that their actions seemed childish and in a vacuum, removing the danger of their cloak-and-dagger methods actually affecting the remainder of the Cabinet. On 12 July, the Egalitarian Party officially acknowledged Matthews' and Knowles' actions, describing them as "power games" and warning them to stop or face humiliation. The full statement issued by the party read -
|“|| The Egalitarian Party is aware that John Matthews and Alfie Knowles are attempting to engineer a split in our party intended to strengthen their position relative to some nebulous source of power that they assume is hidden by us. Glastieve is a nation of equals, and where individuals are influential this is based purely on a respect for their opinions earned through hard work and commitment to the country. We will not insult Matthews' intelligence by pretending that we do not understand how this works: if they continue with their power games, they will only humiliate themselves and lose whatever influence they have.
On 15 July 2017, Kavanah, Catcheside and McMillan personally spoke out against Matthews and Knowles, focusing on Matthews, arguing that any political split would only end badly for them. In response, Matthews claimed that there was no split and that he had no plans to gain any power, saying that "these accusations are completely ludicrous and myself and Alfie both joined the Egalitarians as we thought it was the best way forward for us and Glastieve." He also attacked Kavanah, asking "how come it’s always me that is under fire; why not Catcheside or Kavanah? This is why this Glastieve is really held back, Kavanah is just manipulating everyone and when they do what he wants, he chucks it back into their faces."
The aforementioned comments, along with passing remarks made by Isabella Wall and Genevieve Unak, were published in an article in The Glastieven titled "Egalitarian political split can only end badly for Matthews, argues Kavanah." Their sole aim was now to cause as much damage as possible to Kavanah and his supporters. The full article read (mistakes reproduced sic erat scriptum) -
|“|| Mark S. Kavanah, Tom McMillan and Robert Catcheside have spoken out against John Matthews and Alfie Knowles and their recent work against the Egalitarian Party executive, uncovered by Kavanah on Wednesday last week, accusing them of creating a split in Glastieven politics ‘intended purely for his own gain’, warning him that arguing with the majority will backfire on them both and can ‘only end badly’.
Behind closed doors, Robert Catcheside has been rumoured to have been even more scathing about Matthews. “He thinks this is a game, and that he is the genius megalomaniac, tricking everyone into letting him win,” Catcheside is alleged to have said. “But he always forgets that Flowey ends up dead in all three runs.”
In their official statement, they urged the two to stop their power games, calling for unity in the government to help push the nation forwards in the community and continue with their ambitious economic plans, a call mirrored by Genevieve Unak and Isabella Wall, both also now Egalitarian members, who asked for peaceful talks to find a compromise solution, calling on Catcheside, Kavanah and McMillan to soften their stance.
John Matthews has refused to acknoledgeany [sic] ‘split’ in the party, saying, “These accusations are completely ludicrous and myself and Alfie both joined the Egalitarians as we thought it was the best way forward for us and Glastieve.” Talking directly about Kavanah, he said, “Anyway, how come it’s always me that is under fire; why not Catcheside or Kavanah? This is why this Glastieve is really held back, Kavanah is just manipulating everyone and when they do what he wants, he chucks it back into their faces.”
Catcheside's comparison between Matthews and Flowey was mirrored in the picture used for the article, which showed a scene from Undertale with Flowey holding various other members of the Undertale cast captive, representing Matthews' attempts to control the Cabinet. This was the start of a wider trend of comparing Matthews to Flowey, which would continue throughout the Matthewsgate scandal and would also continue as a recurring motif throughout the political history of the GCA, although it would go out of fashion by the time of Matthews' final resignation after Project Zeta. However, Catcheside himself has stated he regrets making the comment, saying that it was likely "too harsh" and only served to corroborate Matthews' view that the rest of the government had been manipulated by Kavanah into opposing him.
In August 2017, as part of an attempt to accurately record the history of the Matthewsgate scandal, screenshots from the scandal were collected by the Department of Communications and Press Strategy for publication on MicroWiki. However, Kavanah accidentally published a larger tract of his messages with Matthews than intended, which revealed some further information about the buildup to the evening of 16 July. The accidentally published messages were removed from the collection a few hours after their publication to "respect John Matthews' privacy."
The leaked messages showed that, in response to Matthews' statement, Kavanah said "I know, I just wanted a good news story, this is so political kek." However, he has denied that this was an admission of guilt, saying that "the intended meaning of my statement, which was said in a private conversation, was to state that I did not believe that this would amount to anything. I was attempting to follow the strategy laid out in the Communications guidelines of the time, which was to attempt to portray Glastieve as formalising ordinary discourse into a political narrative through media like The Glastieven. My statements at the time regarding Matthewsgate remain the most correct indicator of my feeling at the time and and also remain my sole official position."
The leaked messages also showed that Matthews gave the article a "thumbs up" in the private messages, showing that he supported its publication, despite later claiming that part of his statement was reprinted without permission. The part of the statement that he never denied was intended to be published was sent to Kavanah in quotes, whereas the second message was not; however, Matthews showed no opposition to Kavanah mentioning he would alter the punctuation before its publication, as well as giving the article a thumbs up. On the morning of 16 July, he also offered to meet Kavanah in Exeter during the day, but Kavanah was not free to attend. It is possible that this meeting may have related to Matthewsgate.
Crucially, the period from 12 July to 16 July represented a shift in focus for Matthews and Knowles: by being brought out into the open, their so-called "coup" was now doomed to fail. Their initial plan was to replace the more influential figures in the government with themselves by damaging their reputations and replacing them in leadership roles outside Glastieve; however, now that this was no longer possible due to the official recognition of their behaviour having ended any chance of their gaining respect and influence, their focus shifted to attacking who they saw as responsible - Kavanah. Matthews and Knowles perceived Kavanah as being the manipulative leader at the heart of a web of spin, and having failed to "take over" this alleged power structure, their sole goal was to attack who they saw as the enemy.
Evening of 16 July and resignation of John Matthews
On the evening of 16 July, Matthews resigned from Glastieve after an evening of conflict that would give rise to the controversy being termed "Matthewsgate." Despite the argument being relatively minor in comparison to the rest of the dispute, it represented the "breaking point" where Matthews finally resigned and their plan to attack Kavanah was finally written off as a failure. Howe, Catcheside, Matthews, Kavanah and McMillan were relatively calmly discussing a proposal by Howe to introduce a privately-owned National Lottery once the economy started, a proposal which only Matthews was in opposition to. The discussion started to turn heated when he described Howe as "stupid," which prompted Howe to claim that he only opposed the concept because it had been proposed by him, in reference to the well-known animosity between them. As the argument started to descend into everyone else in the room arguing somewhat aggressively against Matthews' claims, including Howe breaking rules of ministerial conduct by shouting (using ALL CAPS) and swearing, he removed both Howe and Kavanah from the Facebook group.
A few minutes later, he re-added them, explaining his action on the grounds that he only removed them "for a bit of fun." By this stage, Howe had completely lost his temper and was swearing at Matthews, who was laughing at him and making fun of him for losing his composure. Following the group chat guidelines, McMillan (in his capacity as Minister for Media and Technological Affairs) removed Matthews from the group, informing him that he intended this to be a temporary measure to allow everyone to calm down. However, whenever Matthews was re-added to the chat, he attempted to remove McMillan, Howe, Unak and Kavanah - the minister who had removed him and the three he had rivalries with - swearing at other ministers and becoming increasingly aggressive in his insults.
Eventually, he removed all of the chat's members other than himself and Knowles, private messaging Kavanah: "Shame everyone apart from me and Alfie are out the group." Kavanah threatened to leak a screenshot of the messages, claiming that it was proof that he and Knowles were plotting against the remainder of the government, pointing out that Matthews had previously said "these accusations are completely ludicrous" and were the result of "Kavanah just manipulating everyone." Matthews responded by claiming that he was going to publish a "secret" of Kavanah's, giving him "ten seconds to apologise before I leak the secret." Kavanah claimed at the time and during the Nightjar Inquiry in October that he was unaware what Matthews was referring to, and when asked directly in January 2018, Matthews avoided the question.
Kavanah responded to the threat by near-quoting lines from the character Sans in Undertale, the national game of the GCA (and also the source of the running joke comparing Matthews to Flowey). The below table shows the similarity of Kavanah's threats on the night of Matthewsgate to Sans' dialogue in the Final Corridor on a Genocide Route in Undertale -
|Sans' original lines from Undertale||Kavanah's messages during Matthewsgate|
|so, i've got a question for ya.||So, I’ve got a question for you.|
|do you think even the worst person can change...?||Do you think even the worst person can change...?|
|that everyone can be a good person, if they just try?||That everybody can be a good person, if they just try?|
|heh heh heh heh...|
|well, here's a better question.||Well, here’s a better question.|
|do you wanna have a bad time?||Do you wanna have a bad time?|
|cause if you take another step forward...||Because if you don’t stop this pathetic, unskilled attempt at manipulation,|
|you are REALLY not going to like what happens next.||I’m going to use all my Machavellian skills to make sure that you REALLY won’t like what happens next.|
Kavanah went on to explain to Matthews that all he was doing was embarrassing himself, and that it wasn't too late to give up the attempt and apologise, pleading with him to back down, including again quoting near-quoting Sans, saying "Come on, John. Do you remember me?" (cf. "c'mon, buddy. do you remember me?"). After this failed, Kavanah threatened to attack Matthews outside of Glastieve as he had been doing, warning him that "you don't want to see me when I'm not holding back." In response, Matthews blocked Kavanah on Facebook to prevent him messaging him further. A few seconds later, he re-added every member except Kavanah to the group chat, announcing that both he and Knowles were leaving Glastieve immediately and permanently, leaving the group himself.
Matthews then communicated through text messaging McMillan from his mobile, with McMillan forwarding screenshots to the group chat. Howe created a special group chat to post screenshots, and the term "Matthewsgate" was first used, but only to describe the events of that evening. In messages with McMillan, Matthews famously said: "Mark ahs [sic] no power he is a minister of economics [sic] not a lord high chancellor [sic] or any thing [sic] like that and yes quit Glastieve [sic]," and when asked why he quit, claimed that "Glastieve is fake and. A [sic] waste of time." He also went on to say that they were "all playing silly buggers," a phrase he repeated over ten times in later conversations with Kavanah. He then claimed that Knowles had resigned his civil service post two weeks before the evening of Matthewsgate, but retracted this claim five minutes later when it was mentioned by McMillan.
After the screenshots had been collated, McMillan (in his capacity as Minister for Media and Technological Affairs) instructed The Glastieven write a report "showing the extent of our disgust and loathing for the former Minister’s behaviour." Also on the night, Kavanah, Howe and McMillan all issued official statements on the night's events.
Howe stated, "I believe that John Matthews’ resignation will not hinder the progress of Glastieve but rather streamline the government; make it functional. Matthews' resignation shall be like the chains that hold the nation back have been severed. Without the former minister, fewer disagreements, arguments, shouting matches, physical skirmishes and verbal, emotional abuse to other respectful members of the Glastieven Cabinet." Howe also described Matthews’ decision to delete all members from the online governmental groups as being like a "self-destruct" after realising that he’d been defeated in the argument.
McMillan stated, "He quit helping children at the church to do paid work; he actually admitted this to me. John or, as he should now be known as, Aaron, told me that himself and Alfie, his immediate inferior, quit Glastieve: when I asked him why he said 'Glastieve is fake and a waste of time.' His behavior and the objective truth says much more than any spin could."
Kavanah stated that "John Matthews has disgraced himself and, in the short term at least, has humiliated Glastieve. We do not consider ourselves a nation that supports the variety of quasi-political, manipulative behaviour that Matthews – and to a lesser extent Alfie – have indulged in as part of their unsuccessful attempt to seize control of the Egalitarian Party. There can be no question of Matthews' return to Glastieve, and in the short term, no question of my personal forgiveness."
The full news article, which was published the next morning, read (mistakes reproduced sic erat scriptum) -
|“|| John Matthews and Alfie Knowles leave Glastieve in disgrace following failed coup d’état in the Egalitarian government
A seemingly innocent discussion about whether or not to create a lottery in Glastieve has resulted in a ‘night of shame’ for John Matthews and Alfie Knowles, where the depth of their collusion against the government was revealed before Matthews deleted the chat history and attempted to threaten Mark S. Kavanah, before changing tack and announcing his permanent withdrawal, blocking Kavanah on Facebook and issuing poorly-punctuated statements to other Ministers.
A discussion about whether or not a lottery should be established turned heated after Matthews refered to Michael Howe as “stupid” and when the argument seemed to be turning against him, removed both Howe and Kavanah from the group, readding them a few minutes later on the grounds that it was “just for a bit of fun.” Minister for Media and Technological Affairs Tom McMillan removed Matthews from the group, informing him that this was a temporary measure to reduce tension; however, it only inflamed the issue, with Matthews continually insulting and attempting to remove other Ministers whenever he was offered the oppurtunity to calm down.
The so-called coup d’état was Matthews’ final response to the four other present Ministers disgareeing with him, as he removed all chatroom members except himself and Alfie Knowles from the chat, private messaging Kavanah: “Shame everyone apart from me and Alfie are out the group”. After Kavanah threatened to leak the conversation as proof of his and Alfie’s plotting against the group, acusations described by matthews as “ludicrous” and a result of “Kavanah just manipulating everyone”, Matthews retaliated by threatening to leak a “secret” of Kavanah’s, giving him “10 seconds to apologise before I release the secret.” Kavanah responded by nearly quoting some of Sans’ lines from Undertale (the national game).
“So, I’ve got a question for you.
“Do you think even the worst person can change. . . ?
“That everybody can be a good person, if they just try?
“Well, here’s a better question.
“Do you wanna have a bad time?
“Because if you don’t stop this pathetic, unskilled attempt at manipulation, I’m going to use all my Machavellian skills to make sure that you REALLY won’t like what happens next.”
In response to Kavanah’s continued pleas to end the coup, including a detailed walkthrough of how he intended to take Matthews down, Matthews announced suddenly that he was quitting Glastieve with immediate effect, and blocked Kavanah on Facebook to avoid further questioning. In messages to Tom McMillan, Matthews claimed that “Mark ahs no power he is a minister of economics not a lord high chancellor or any thing like that and yes quit Glastieve [sic overload] “, and when asked why he quit, claimed that “Glastieve is fake and. A waste of time [sic]”.
Since removing all members from the online chat, John Matthews resigned and added all members except Mark S. Kavanah back into the group, before leaving himself. During the dispute, now being branded as “Matthewsgate” by the involved Ministers, Matthews revealed that Alfie Knowles, former Undersecretary in the Department for National Identity, Insignia and Language had allegedly resigned two weeks previous. Alfie Knowles is yet to comment.
Three involved Ministers have issued official statements regarding ‘Matthewsgate’.
Minister for Infrastructure, Transportation and Geographical Affairs Michael Howe stated, “I believe that John Matthews’ resignation will not hinder the progress of Glastieve but rather streamline the government; make it functional. Matthews’ resignation shall be like the chains that hold the nation back have been severed. Without the former minister, fewer disagreements, arguments, shouting matches, physical skirmishes and verbal, emotional abuse to other respectful members of the Glastieven Cabinet.” Howe also described Matthews’ decision to delete all members from the online governmental groups as being like a “self-destruct” after realising that he’d been defeated in the argument
Minister for Media and Technological Affairs Tom McMillan stated, “He quit helping children at the church to do paid work, he actually admitted this to me. John or, as he should now be known as, Aaron told me that himself and Alfie, his immediate inferior quit Glastieve; when I asked him why he said ‘Glastieve is fake and a waste of time. His behavior and the objective truth says much more than any spin could.”
Minister for Economics, Finance and Governmental Communications Mark Kavanah stated that “John Matthews has disgraced himself and, in the short term at least, has humiliated Glastieve. We do not consider ourselves a nation that supports the variety of quasi-political, manipulative behaviour that Matthews – and to a lesser extent Alfie – have indulged in as part of their unsucessful attempt to sieze control of the Egalitarian Party. There can be no question of Matthews’ return to Glastieve, and in the short term, no question of my personal forgiveness.”
Editor’s note: The Glastieven was officially instructed by the Minister for Media and Technological Affairs and advised by the Media for Economics, Finance and Governmental Communications, as part fo the Media and Governemtnal Communications briefs, to write a report “showing the extent of our disgust and loathing for the former Minister’s behaviour.
Several disparate screenshots, which provide a full but incomplete picture of the messages sent during Matthewsgate, were uploaded to a group chat named "Matthewsgate screenshots" on 16 July. In the same chat there was an image of a draft version of the Anti-Cuntery and Dickishness Act, which would be formally proposed ten days later.
Aftermath and immediate consequences
Further information: GCA Cabinet reshuffle, July 2017
The next morning, 17 July, Kavanah was required to work with Knowles for a week on a non-Glastieve related project. Early that morning, Kavanah and the GSS agreed to focus the week on trying to transfer Knowles' loyalties back to the government, and on ending the bilateral association between him and Matthews in a spin and political context. During the GSS's August 2017 restructure, this mission would be retrospectively designated Operation Glass Crystal. It was referred to casually as "Operation DONIIAL," in reference to breaking up the role of Doniial as the opposition to the NEC/GSS.
Knowles claimed on 17 July to have "woken up confused" on the morning after Matthews' resignation, and confirmed that he still wanted to remain part of Glasteive, giving the statement: "I don’t know what John’s on about. I'm still 100% a member of Glastieve and if I was going to quit, I'd tell the group and formally hand in a letter, not just tell John to announce I'd walked out or something. I woke up confused this morning... I really hope this can all be sorted out." Kavanah instructed Catcheside to initiate the formal procedure to elect a new Minister for National Identity, Insignia and Language, with Knowles standing within minutes of nominations opening.
Knowles' innocence was communicated in a short news report in The Glastieven on 17 July, which was the final news report directly related to Matthewsgate.
|“|| Alfie Knowles “woke up confused” on morning after Matthewsgate scandal and is “still 100% a member of Glastieve.”
Alfie Knowles, Undersecretary to the Department of National Identity, Insignia and Language, who was yesterday claimed to have left Glastieve two weeks ago and was also announced to have quit by disgraced former Minister John Matthews, has informed the Cabinet that he has no intention of quitting.
“I don’t know what John’s on about,” said Alfie this morning. “I’m still 100% a member of Glastieve and if I was going to quit, I’d tell the group and formally hand in a letter, not just tell John to announce I’d walked out or something. I woke up confused this morning… I really hope this can all be sorted out.”
Alfie, who is now a full member of Glastieve is again, is currently the frontrunner in the election for the new Minister for National Identity, Insignia and Language.
However, with no sign of another candidate standing, on the evening of 18 July, Kavanah motioned to the Egalitarian Party NEC that Knowles should be appointed without being formally elected. The Committee voted by a majority to accept the motion, but Catcheside (in his capacity as Minister for Governmental Administration and Recruitment) called it "lazy," and the leader of the opposition party, the Pragmatic Party, William Allen, called it "undemocratic." After being appointed, Knowles said he planned to "continue with the quintessential 'DONIIAL' identity that John Matthews [had] created for the Department." He went on to say: "I’m not one fo [sic] these people who’s really glad John is gone and thinks we need to remove all traces of his leadership. I think that, with some unfortunate exceptions like his bullying and manipulative tendancies [sic], he could certainly run a good Department."
Over the next week, Knowles was convinced to side with Glastieve over Matthews. However, the bilateral association between them remained and was a measurable force in the GCA's politics until both of their resignation at the time of Project Zeta. Some analyses of Operation Glass Crystal reflect poorly on Kavanah, either by questioning the success of his efforts or by questioning the altruism of his intentions. In October 2017, Matthews claimed that Kavanah had used Operation Glass Crystal as an excuse to recruit Knowles to a cabal that he would use in the reshuffle to secure control over Glastieve. In response to Matthews' claims, the Department of Communications and Press Strategy considered Operation Glass Crystal's main purpose to have been to prevent Knowles and Matthews "regrouping" and planning to politically attack Glastieve from outside the government.
On 23 July, one day after the conclusion of Operation Glass Crystal, Kavanah proposed the "Anti-Cuntery and Dickishness Act" to the Cabinet. The Act, which had been initially drafted by Kavanah on the evening of Matthewsgate with near-unanimous support but was now much more divisive, would have effectively exiled Matthews and barred him from rejoining the government. The Act was tied in the first round of voting, with Allen, Unak, Howe and Wall (as well as non-Cabinet member Arissa Wilde) supporting the motion, and opposed by Catcheside, Kavanah, McMillan and Knowles. The Cabinet Procedure Act states that, in the case of a tie, the vote should be held again without counting the votes of the Field Marshal and the Chief Justice, both of whom had voted in favour of the Act, causing it to narrowly fail.
The failure of the Anti-Cuntery and Dickishness Act was seen as a turning point in the aftermath of Matthewsgate, as for the first time, a decision had been taken to, at least technically, allow Matthews to rejoin the country or the government. It also showed that the "influence" held by certain members of the Cabinet was an illusion, or at least had faded, which also laid the ground for Matthews to feel more comfortable in a return to Glastieve. He was approached for comment on the failure of the Anti-Cuntery and Dickishness Act, but refused to do so. A news story reporting on the Act also continued the Flowey joke, showing the Cabinet choosing to spare Flowey after the rebellion of the Human SOULs at the end of the Photoshop Flowey fight.
Seeing that he would be allowed to rejoin, Matthews unblocked Kavanah on Facebook and opened dialogue with him. After a few minutes, he presented Kavanah and the Cabinet with an ultimatum: demote Knowles and re-instate him as the Minister for National Identity, Insignia and Language, or he would refuse to rejoin. He also threatened to have Knowles leave with him, but this was seen as an empty threat. He also presented a separate ultimatum to McMillan: make he and Knowles "co-Ministers" for National Identity, Insignia and Language, both allowed to attend and vote at cabinet meetings. When both of these proposals were rejected unanimously, he walked away from negotiations, once again claiming the rest of the country were "playing silly buggers."
However, on 24 July, Matthews agreed to become the Undersecretary to the Department of National Identity, Insignia and Language. The vote was scheduled to be held on 25 July, with McMillan and Kavanah announcing that they intended to side with Knowles and Catcheside, who were seen as the primary camp in favour of Matthews return. Unak and Howe were seen as the most vocal anti-Matthews campaigners. However, the Department of Economics, Finance and Governmental Communications warned of the dangers of continuing in this overly-political manner, claiming that constant scandals were damaging Glastieve's community image and ability to make progress. Later that day, they issued a statement reading, "John Matthews is either a member of Glastieve or he is not. His current one-foot-in attitude, which is constantly creating political tension and scandal, can not be allowed to continue from a Communications standpoint. We all have more important things to be getting on with, and if he returns, Matthews can consider himself on a final warning. If he quits again, that will be it – this Department owes it to the Government to keep that promise."
However, in secret, Kavanah and McMillan - who were now seen as the most influential members of the government after Catcheside had appeared to be lacking in political vitriol in the debate over Matthews' proposed exile - were planning the end of the Partisan Period. Motivated into action by the events of Matthewsgate and McMillan's disdain for "Communications," in the euphemistic sense, they planned to hold a Cabinet reshuffle to shake up the government and to prevent the vote on Matthews return from taking place, which would have risked its failure. They proposed at the final meeting of the Egalitarian Party NEC the "Anti-Political Functionalist Motion" (which is from where the mythological Evon political philosophy draws its name), which would dissolve the party machine and trigger a Cabinet reshuffle with McMillan and Kavanah as the advisors. The motion was passed unanimously.
The reshuffle, which promised "an era of stability and progress founded on a more equal Cabinet and more specialised and functional Departments," would see Matthews return to the Cabinet as the Minister for Economics, Corporations and Charities. The list that determined the composition of the new Cabinet was written by Kavanah, McMillan, Knowles and Matthews together at a Starbucks near Glastieve. The inclusion of Knowles and Matthews on the reshuffle team was a peace offering - it showed that Matthewsgate was over. However, its impact on the GCA's political culture would be difficult to overstate; even after Project Zeta, Matthewsgate's influence was perhaps unreasonably great for its size.
Cultural impact and legacy
Matthewsgate had a major influence on the politics of the GCA. The level of detailed analysis available on Matthewsgate, compared for example to a larger event such as the April 2017 controversy, is a result of its disproportionate standing in understandings of Glastieven history until at least November 2017. Towards the middle of November 2017, Matthewsgate would, as Michael Howe put it, start to "go out of fashion as the quintessential -gate scandal," which allowed its cultural impact to be assessed and appreciated more realistically; before then, it was seen both as an amusing meme and as one of the most important incidents int he cultural group's history. An article written in October 2017, for example, claimed that "Matthewsgate has had a huge impact on Glastieven political culture. It is seen as a defining moment in Glastieven politics and remains a topic of active political debate."
The legacy of the controversy was widespread mistrust of "communications," a reputation for Mark Kavanah that would lead to Howe in November 2017 describing him as the "King of Spin," and a stereotyped image of Matthews and Knowles that they would both find difficult to shake, especially Matthews.
Matthewsgate is also known for introducing a connection between John Matthews and Flowey. John Matthews's later actions have been compared to other actions by Flowey in Undertale (or in the YouTube parody series If Undertale was Realistic), and non-Matthewsgate related satirical artwork depicts Lynch as Flowey. Before the Matthewsgate scandal, he was sometimes portrayed as Papyrus, but references to this essentially ended after the scandal. In October 2017, Lynch destroyed satirical artwork created by Kavanah representing Matthewsgate as akin to the Photoshop Flowey battle in Undertale, named Photoshop Matthews by McMillan, a nickname now in general usage. The artwork also showed Knowles being used as a weapon by Lynch, which Knowles described as "actually pretty clever." As well as Kavanah's images of "Photoshop Matthews," in the same month Catcheside made an image that showed Knowles' state photograph as the new Minister for National Identity, Insignia and Language with the word "DoNIIAL" replaced with "Denial," with the edited image titled "the influence of Matthewsgate." In January 2018, a leaked image of diagrams made by the GSS attempting to understand social connections within Acteriendia showed Knowles' and Matthews' names circled and labelled as "Matthewsgateland."