10pm, 12 December. It’s all over bar the counting.
It was an election where we heard of plonkers. Joshing. Post stratification. An election where blocks of ice made more of a contribution to the climate emergency debate than most politicians. An election where children lay on the floor.
There were false facts. False fact checkers. Tony Blair unbelievably accused parties of peddling fantasies. We didn’t see much of Jacob Rees Mogg. Lifelong Tories recommended voting against the Conservatives.
This article is not about political parties and policies. It’s about political antics. Things that have caught my attention.
This was an election when the phrase Multilevel Regression and Poststratification (MRP) came to the public eye. This statistical wonder is like making a cassoulet. Throw all your vegetables, beans and meat into a pot. Stir around. Then serve to media hacks too hungry to worry about how the results were generated. MRP has yet to get a Michelin Star. Talking of food, Burger King parked a Routemaster outside parliament advertising its Big Whoppers. Tasteless unless taken with a large pinch of salt.
Whoppers were everywhere in this election. Tony Blair, who infamously published the “dodgy dossier” to launch the Iraq War, accused Labour and Tories of “peddling two sets of fantasies”. Just two? Fact checkers were everywhere. The Tories even launched a fake fact checker to attack Corbyn during a TV debate with Johnson.
Tactical voting sites sprang up. I looked up my options for Ludlow. People’s Vote says vote for Lib Dem Heather Kidd. Having informed the Telegraph I am a Remainer, the newspaper told me the outcome of election is a done deal here. No point in my paying the £3.60p return bus fare to the polling station then. We will get old Etonian Philip Dunne, the political neutral Telegraph says. This former defence and health minister, who campaigned against Brexit but voted for Brexit, is facing a police investigation after accusing his Sikh Labour rival of “talking through his turban”. The story made headlines from Virginia to Hindustan.
Dunne is not alone. Islamophobia, anti-semitism, attacks on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers – racism seems to have become institutionalised. Even a Lib Dem was caught out for racist and homophobic tweets.
Tory grandee Michael Hesletine, who like Dunne was sacked from his government role by Theresa May, urged voters to vote Lib Dem. Former justice secretary David Gauke did the same. One time prime minister John Major said blocking Brexit was more important than voting Conservative. Former health minister Kenneth Clark mused over voting Lib Dem. Deals were done on standing aside to get Remain candidates elected. In Stockton South, the Lib Dem candidate endorsed his Labour rival. In Canterbury, the Lib Dem candidate stood aside to allow the Labour incumbent to defend a slim majority.
A Tory hoping to represent Wells in Somerset admitted to being embarrassed after his election literature featured policies for Wales. Also in Somerset, Full Fact warned the Lib Dems about misleading use of graph in election literature. Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth admitted he looked like a “plonker” after telling a Tory he couldn’t sell the party’s position on Brexit, or Corbyn for that matter. But it was just “joshing” and Corbyn dismissed it as “reverse psychology banter – as in football”. I am sure Corbyn will join Arsenal fans this Sunday chanting “COME ON MAN CITY!” on Emirates Stadium terraces.
Johnson and Farage were substituted by blocks of ice after they failed to turn up to a Channel 4 debate on the climate emergency. Michael Gove was turned away as a poor substitute for a block of ice. The Tories retaliated by threatening to withdraw the channel’s licence. In Lewes, a Conservative scaled a fence to escape questioning at a husting on climate.
To the relief of everyone, Jacob Rees Mogg was confined to his chaise longue after a suggesting the victims of the Grenfell fire “lacked common sense”. North West Leicestershire Tory Andrew Bridgen defended him saying Rees Mogg was clever than the victims.
In an echo of the 1992 War of Jennifer’s Ear, four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr was photographed lying on the floor of A&E. It became more serious when the mother received deaths threats. After a mother followed Philip Dunne’s advice to use a chair in A&E when beds are not available, the UK’s champion of democratic debate, the Daily Mail, screamed “She’s a Labour voter”. Beware. Never say anything in public unless you are voting for the right wing press of the day.