Election Daily: Picking and choosing

14 days to go

Just a fortnight, almost there…


TO Gray’s Inn Road where excitement, agitation and a bit of cynicism met the recording of Channel 4’s climate change debate for the party leaders, as the Conservatives tried to make ‘the story’ not about what was said in the studio but… Michael Gove turning up at the last moment with a request to take part. Ice sculptures were melting in the studio at the podiums where both Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage had bobbed invites to participate.

You already know this but a dangerous feature of Mr Johnson’s leadership and our politics more generally is how, without sustaining any damage, he can say what he wants, often with a smile, have written a compendium of inflammatory articles and now is also able to pick and choose how he is scrutinised without any real effect.

Of course, he should face Andrew Neil on the BBC, and he should really have been among the panellists at Channel 4. But for all the ice sculpture larks and complaints to Ofcom, the fact that he can sidestep both, and more, and still be very much on course to get what he wants from this election says a lot about the declining power of the media to hold politicians to account.

Yes, there are similarities with the way Jeremy Corbyn’s team were moaned at for rationing access for some of the national press during his time as leader; but he didn’t shirk the ‘toughest election interview’ this week, even if his advisors may have wished after it had gone to air that they had let the phone ring on when Mr Neil’s team called.

Mr Gove’s appearance at Channel 4 was particularly sketchy, as he turned up surely aware that he would be given a ‘no’ – the clue being this was a leaders’ debate and despite his best efforts he never seems to make it to the head of the Conservative Party.

Sketchy further, because he brought his own camera man with a boom mic, so that a subtitled video could be rushed to the internet about how, yup, they were the victims.

Oh, and he brought this guy carrying the bags on the right too.

Henry Newman was not the only Camden councillor there: Labour’s Lorna Russell met the Mirror chicken as Corbyn supporters amassed outside.


EARLIER in the week Channel 4 had covered Labour’s handling of anti-semitism complaints and the comments of chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. On came the Jewish actress Miriam Margoyles to, I think, help Jeremy Corbyn who she described as a “lovely bloke”.

But while explaining how he had fought prejudice all his life and was being unfairly attacked, Ms Margoyles also went on to say how she did not think Mr Corbyn was a good leader and the party would be ‘sailing’ to victory on December 12 if you know who¬†was in his place.

If you play it on, you’ll also find contributions in a studio discussion from former Labour councillor Mike Katz.


KEIR Starmer was back on home turf today after his most recent election tour of the country helping out in less predictable constituencies as his own. Every time I mention his extensive travel schedule, somebody will mutter about how pressing the flesh with as many Labour party members right now is also a perfect way of extending his appeal beyond north London for any other sort of vote that might be coming soon… but there you go, he was photographed in his athletic civvies rallying the troops for the December 12 general election in York Rise.

But as attention turned to Arsenal later in the evening – Mr Starmer’s team lost AGAIN – we had to ask: who wore the grey, red and white better?




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