UK Politics

20 things to lose in time for the next election

BY John McKie   /  16 June 2017

The editor of this website has already struggled to find ten positives from the General Election but if we are to strive for, to paraphrase Ronnie Reagan, morning again in the UK, there are a few things it would be lovely to consign to the political scrapheap. The place where they keep the Ed Stone, Sheffield rallies, Hague baseball caps and now Nick Clegg. Therefore, when they call the next Election in 2022 (or August 2017), let’s abandon the following:-

1 Rallies masquerading as press conferences.
This creeping tendency among the main parties (the Conservatives, Labour and the Nats – if you watch Lib Dem press conferences, you are probably Mrs. Tim Farron or beyond help) to fill the front rows of what pass for press events with cheerleaders. This leads to political reporters being booed and party leaders receiving raucous laughs at non-jokes. The BBC’s Laura Kuennsburg is not King Rat in a marginal seat production of Dick Whittington because she asked Jeremy Corbyn about spending cuts. Neither does Newsnight’s Nick Watt deserved to be booed like Captain Hook because he asked the Prime Minister about May-ism. She told him “there is no May-ism”, something the rest of us found out in due course. Nicola Sturgeon, despite the adoring guffaws from the front rows of the SNP gatherings, is no Don Rickles.

The main parties used to have press conferences with journalists asking serious questions and no party goons braying at anyone impertinent to ask questions. Let’s go back to those.

2 “Strong and stable”.

3 “Preparedness and resilience.”

4 “Magic” and “money” and “trees”.

5 Leaflets based around a leader with the name of the party hidden (Messianic and unwise) or mentioning the party but avoiding all mention of who might lead it. (Sneaky and evasive)

6 #IndyRef2
The worst quick fire sequel idea since Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, one of which was actually greenlit.

7 “Fields of wheat”. Not only will this provoke cringeing from now until the end of time, it sounds like an out-take from Sting’s Ten Summoners Tales album.

8 Tweets from old people telling 18-24s insisting that they register to vote. Not at all patronising.

9 Tweets from old people congratulating 18-24s for voting as if it was climbing Kilimanjaro on stilts rather than performing the basic minimum function expected in a democratic society. See above.

10 Tweets from old people saying “I wouldn’t dream of telling you who to vote for but if you care about anyone under 70, you have to vote for…” There’s a theme emerging here.

11 Newsnight’s Evan Davis and Nick Watt in a deserted Walsall art gallery at 11:40pm.

12 Avoiding the Today programme where they might actually ask a relevant question but bringing either your husband or a pot of jam on to The One Show.

13 Enthusiasts of all political stripe pushing “my side’s better than yours” arguments within 12 hours of a terrorist attack on social media when the major politicians, to their credit, largely left things for a moment.

14 Visits to the Bath Cheese Festival on the same night as a leaders’ debate. Fair enough (I went to the theatre rather than watch it) but if you’re one of the leaders, not such a good move.

15 Paul Nuttall in a tweed suit.

16 Recommendations to the Electorate from celebrity residents of California and New York.

17 “Look”. A popular political trope when a politician pivots away from the question being asked to something else entirely. (Hello, Barry Gardiner MP). It is to 2017 what Ed Miliband favourite “I don’t accept that” (often used when presented with an incontrovertible fact “You knifed your brother and guaranteed Electoral oblivion”) was to 2015.

18 Editors of regional free sheets who used to be Chancellor of the Exchequer on warp-scale gloating mode. If the career trajectory was the other way, this might be more understandable.

19 The eerie omnipresence of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. (This is admittedly unlikely at the next Election, whether it is in August 2017 or June 2022).

20 Sitting through three hours of Friday morning of rolling Election news TV where not one of the major party leaders held a press conference to resign. Paul Nuttall doesn’t count. What a rip-off.