Xmas poll campaign medals
Election round-up , Issue 1512
Having filed this column for the Telegraph, Pearson headed straight to Twitter to demand: “So now all the Jews are staying who do we nominate to leave?” – making her clear winner of the election campaign medal for Most Sensitive Handling of Anti-Semitism.
Best investigative reporting
When the Yorkshire Post and Daily Mirror reported that four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr had had to sleep on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary, the Daily Telegraph’s Allison Pearson announced on her increasingly overheated Twitter account that she had the real scoop: “He was not ‘forced to lie on a pile of coats’. The parents staged it. A Great Ormond St nurse has explained to me in detail how it is ‘100% faked’. That poor child used as a political pawn!” It was only after her claim had been retweeted and liked thousands of times, had been thoroughly debunked and the chief medical officer in Leeds had publicly confirmed Jack’s experience and apologised for it that Pearson quietly deleted her tweet.
FUN FACT: It is almost exactly a year since Pearson denounced Donald Trump’s habit of “branding critical reporting ‘fake news’” as a “depth the president is unafraid to plumb”.
Order of the balaclava
During his self-imposed period of reflection on defeat, Jeremy Corbyn is continuing his masterly use of social media, which apparently “won the argument” for Labour even if it didn’t quite translate into votes. Standing proud against the idea that some former Labour voters were put off by his past associations with terrorists, last Sunday he posted a video on Twitter captioned “Our time will come” – which to Irish ears recalls “Tiocfaidh ár lá”, or “Our day will come”, the long-time slogan of the Provisional IRA, whose convicted bombers Corbyn invited to the Commons shortly after the Brighton bombing. Well done!
Is Telegraph editor Chris Evans embarrassed that because his newspaper has abandoned any pretence of independent political reporting it is known as the Daily Borisgraph? Not at all: he hopes to profit from it. The Telegraph is now urging potential subscribers to “follow Boris with the team who know him best for just £1 per week for the first three months”. If those who have worked with him at the Telegraph are “the team who know him best”, their opinions must be valuable. What do they say? “I have known Johnson since the 1980s, when I edited the Daily Telegraph,” Max Hastings wrote in the Guardian on 25 June. “Johnson would not recognise truth, whether about his private or political life, if confronted by it in an identity parade… Almost the only people who think Johnson a nice guy are those who do not know him.”
When someone on Twitter suggested voting Tory “to keep the Marxist out of No 10”, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens was quick to put him right, explaining: “We had Marxists in No 10 from 1997 to 2010, and what did the Tories do? They copied them.” For acute political analysis, this was only matched by the startling revelation from Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon on Twitter: “Boris Johnson is a Tory. He wants us to forget this. But that’s what he is.”
“The policies that have been democratically developed and chosen by the Labour party are incredibly popular,” announced the New Statesman’s Grace Blakeley on ITV’s Good Morning Britain the morning after 68 percent of the electorate had emphatically rejected them. “60 to 70 percent of people support those policies… People in this country are in favour of fairly radical left-wing policies.” Strategic analysis like that is a rare talent that deserves to be rewarded, and the following Monday Blakeley announced that she had been recruited by George Orwell’s old paper Tribune as part of its efforts to “build a stronger socialist movement”!
Best use of statistics
“This new politics, embodied by Jeremy Corbyn, has lost in its first electoral showdown. But the circumstances of its defeat should embolden us… Losing this battle was always an option. Losing the war is unthinkable,” declared Eleanor Penny, kicking off that “period of reflection” in style in the Independent on 14 December – and slightly overlooking the fact that this was not even the first general election Corbyn had managed to lose. In fact, counting May’s European elections, in which Labour came third, and the four sets of local elections under his leadership, in which the party made a net loss of 400 seats, it was the sixth electoral test in which he had come up short.
Tiny Tim award
“If a Christmas election is confirmed, Labour will have the opportunity to create the most fun and exciting general election campaign ever seen in this country. It would be during the season of goodwill – the time of year when people most give to charity, volunteer to support the homeless and give back to their community. If Labour can capture this spirit, a Christmas election could be the perfect time to put Jeremy Corbyn’s positive vision to the country… I’m thinking red ‘Vote Labour’ bobble hats, mulled wine in flasks on the doorstep, Christmas jumpers and all manner of creative ideas that Labour’s membership of half a million people are ready for.” – Joe Ryle, former adviser to John McDonnell, writing on LabourList.org, 29 October
Most talented spin doctor
While everyone involved in the Brexit Party campaign which turned a 31.6 percent vote share at May’s European elections into a 2 percent showing in December deserves a medal, a special mention must go to those behind the camera for the last-minute appeal to voters which Nigel Farage recorded on the eve of the vote, pointing out the number of “seats the Conservatives haven’t won in 50 years and they won’t win them this Thursday”. The decision to have him deliver his speech while wearing a mac while hanging around in a deserted children’s playground showed a sure-fire knowledge of what appeals most to the British public.
Credit where it’s blue
“Whilst I launched Blue Collar Conservatism in January this year, it is the Conservatism I have stood for all my life, through thick and thin. No amount of bullying, intimidation or plain misrepresentation of my views would stop me from championing working class conservatives. And like a blue wave carrying a boat-full of optimism, Boris and Brexit unleashed Blue Collar Conservatism right across the country.” – Esther McVey claims credit for the working-class Tory vote, Telegraph, 17 December
Best use of ‘period of reflection’
Three days into the time Corbyn put aside for “discussion [to] take place and we move on into the future”, Labour MP Emily Thornberry announced she had started legal action against former colleague Caroline Flint for claiming she had told an MP from a Leave-voting area: “I am glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours.” “I’ve said to Caroline ‘come on, this isn’t true, you know, withdraw it and I’ll give you to until the end of the day and she refuses to so I’ve had to go through all the hassle of instructing solicitors,” Thornberry told the BBC. She was, however, upstaged by another former Labour MP, Chris Williamson, who waited until five days after the election to announce that he was setting up a “Left Legal Fighting Fund” to help anyone else who had been “maliciously smeared” as an anti-Semite to sue the party – adding for good measure that such claims had only come about because “a hostile foreign government has mobilised its assets in the UK, which Israeli diplomats call their ‘power multiplier’, in an attempt to prevent a Corbyn-led Labour government… using faith organisations”. And to think people have somehow got the impression he’s a raving anti-Semite!
“[Politics] is still about life as it is actually lived, about the things that grown-ups know matter: family and community, civil behaviour, rational public debate and – as Boris Johnson suggested in his speech after winning a stupendous victory – generosity and conciliation in the conduct of government.” – Janet Daley, Telegraph, 14 December
Calling it wrong
On the day of the election, veteran Grauniad sage George Monbiot tweeted: “I’m beginning to get the feeling that something very interesting is in the air.” After the result, he reverted to the sort of apocalyptic tone found in 1950s Nevil Shute novels: “We have each other. No one needs to face this setback alone. We are the resistance now.” Shortly before the result was announced, Labour peer Lord Adonis claimed: “The election has moved decisively against Johnson this week as the focus shifted to him personally.” After the exit poll he did a quick reverse ferret, writing: “The election was overwhelmingly down to one issue – Jeremy Corbyn. Anyone who canvassed can tell you that.”
Gracious in defeat
“Let me be gracious,” comedian Mark Steel wrote on Twitter after the exit poll. “All the people celebrating now are the most entitled, embittered, sneering nasty selfish racist foul fuckwits. I’d still rather be with the decent people, however gutted they are, than be with you for a second.” John Hannah, who co-starred with Hugh “Vote Lib Dem or Labour” Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral, was equally swift to offer a generous analysis. “Like it or not,” he averred, “we’re a country of racists. It’s all about English nationalism.” This was after the exit poll predicted a big jump for the SNP.
Most brilliant suggestion
Playwright David Eldridge was soon retweeting suggestions that the next Labour leader should be, er, Ed Miliband.
Tom Baldwin, Ed Miliband’s former spin doctor who worked on the People’s Vote campaign before falling out with its chairman Roland Rudd, liked a suggestion that Boris Johnson should give a peerage to Rudd, “the man who took @thepeoplesvote_uk off the pitch the day the election started”.
Most valiant fighter for truth
“Unchecked targeted bespoke propaganda. We need to start taking this seriously.” – Lily Allen reveals the real reason Labour lost the election, just prior to deleting her Twitter account on the grounds that the electorate do not deserve her, 13 December 2019
“I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media… I am hearing from people the figure is much closer to 150 – and that many of those people are children.” – Lily Allen announces arbitrary death toll in Grenfell disaster live on Channel 4 News, 15 June 2017
“People are saying there are over 100 bodies in Paddington and the morgue is full they moved the corpses at night.” – Lily Allen returns to the topic on Twitter, 16 June 2017. The number of dead was later confirmed as 72
At least someone was happy…
The election-night madness and lack of charity on social media wasn’t all a one-way street. Rod Liddle’s reaction on Facebook to Corbyn’s defeat? “Yyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeessssssssssssssss! Fuck off Grandpa!”
Both the Times and the Mail have been sniffy about Boris Johnson in recent months – but after his thumping election win all that has been forgotten.
The Sun came over all dewy-eyed about how it scuppered Neil Kinnock’s chances in the 1992 election – back when it sold three times as many papers.
The Daily Mail surprisingly devoted a page and a half to the plight of Uyghur Muslims in China – despite itself having many business interests there.
After the election Jeremy Corbyn lashed out at how the media treated him and his wife – but what exactly was written about his family during the campaign?
No surprise the Sun didn’t report that Meghan Markle had been named “Most Unfairly Treated Person”, given its executive editor had led the offensive.
THE Evening Standard’s “Future London” scheme, in which it sells sponsored features, has resulted in a range of puff pieces for the Edwardian Hotels chain.