» daily mail ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Bad ideas for party election broadcasts, number 1 in a hopefully very infrequent series: Borrowing the concept of Dr. Pepper adverts, we go for ‘vote Liberal Democrat – what’s the worst that could happen?’

I guess we need to wait till the final week for the Daily Mail to do their ‘welcome to Nick Clegg’s Britain’ fantasy to find the answer, but I expect it to be one of the so-bad-it’s-good classics. I’m predicting starring roles for Lembit Opik and Evan Harris as Chancellor and Secretary of State for Destroying Everything Britain Stands For, while Buckingham Palace probably gets closed down and moved to a field outside Brussels to serve as Herman von Rompuy’s holiday home.

So, the first votes of the election have been cast and are now sitting in post boxes, delivery vans and sorting offices waiting to be delivered. I still vote in person, mainly because I live very close to my polling station and thus always seem to be the person who gets volunteered to do the first hour or two of telling there, which means I can normally be the first person to vote there too. There’s something about the experience of going into a polling station and putting my cross on a piece of paper or two that makes me think ‘is that it? Next time I vote, I want to be using a decent electoral system.’

Still, at least I won’t be trying to place a cross on the ballot paper while holding my nose, unlike Polly Toynbee, who’s doing her bit for the environment by recycling ideas from 2005. I have the feeling that if the Government depicted in Torchwood: Children of Earth was a Labour one, Polly Toynbee would still be arguing that they needed to be supported. Yes, they may have wanted to hand over 10% of the country’s children to the 456, but that at least helped to create more vacancies at Sure Start centres. Anyway, James Graham said everything I wanted to say on this without introducing drug-addicted aliens into the argument.

Meanwhile, today’s ‘Really? Wow! Thank God you mentioned that, we’d never have thought of it ourselves’ award goes to Sunny Hundal for this piece of advice to the Liberal Democrats:

Identifying Lib Dem pockets of voters and organising activists to start knocking on doors on polling day to get them out would be another strategy Cowley Street is or should be thinking about.

Yes, fellow Lib Dems, we’re going to have to stop spending our election days sitting on the sofa drinking beer and catching up with all the exciting developments we’ve missed on Doctors during the campaign. Apparently – and I know this will be news to all of you out there – if we had some way of finding out which voters were likely to support us, we could then spend polling day making sure we get them to go out and vote. I’ll be sure to mention this brand new idea to the campaign team at the nest meeting.

For today’s campaigning, we got to pretend to be postmen in a sorting office, taking the large numbers of letters that have been addressed and stuffed over the past few weeks and arranging them ready for delivery. Another of those dull jobs that doesn’t get reported on as part of campaigning, but helps get a lot of people voting.

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While you wait

This week’s walk will be a bit later than usual – probably appearing sometime this afternoon or evening – so until then, why not go and read Anton Vowl’s discussion of the Mail’s attack on Lembit Opik’s relatives?

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Ah, the Daily Mail. The champion of the law-abiding citizen, the sort of paper that would surely regard someone boasting about how they wilfully endangered people to be beyond the pale and worthy of condemnation. Well, you’d think that, but then you’re not the Daily Mail executive who thought it would be a good idea to get James Martin (if you don’t know who he is, he’s celebrity cookery’s version of Alan Titchmarsh) to write their motoring column for them in which he does just that.

Like most wannabe motoring writers, James likes to think he’s the new Jeremy Clarkson. Of course, the Jeremy Clarkson he wants to replace isn’t the real one, but the crass, boorish and thuggishly crude version of Clarkson that exists in many peoples’ heads without any of the real one’s talent, wit, irony and self-deprecation.

So, when James gets asked to review the electric Tesla Roadster, you can predict that his article will contain the usual digs at ‘tree-huggers’ (yes, he uses that exact term) and cyclists inbetween his attempts to actually review the car, but then he ends with a quite stunning…well, confession is probably the best word:

Twenty minutes into my test drive I pulled round a leafy bend, enjoying the birdsong – and spotted those damned Spider-Man cyclists. Knowing they wouldn’t hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed.

The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my rear-view mirror. I think this could be the car for me.

Yes, a Daily Mail writer has just boasted about how he wilfully endangered other road users while out driving a car on behalf of the paper. Unfortunately, he doesn’t say exactly where this took place, but if you know of any cyclists who were driven off the road by an arrogant idiot in a Tesla then they now know who did it and can inform the relevant police force. So maybe by printing this, the Mail has done something for law and order.

UPDATE: Obviously in order to demonstrate their commitment to free speech, the Mail have now removed all the comments from the article, most of which were from cyclists pointing out his stupidity.

(via Bradley Wiggins and Cycling Weekly on Twitter)

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Today’s attempt at nowtrage from the Daily Mail is the revelation that the BBC are employing someone who may have taken cocaine. Nothing really worth looking at for too long as it’s the standard ‘let’s create a row by taking a non-story and calling Mediawatch for a quote’ space-filler.

However, it did get me wondering if other rent-a-quote organisations get jealous of of Mediawatch and John Beyer. While the Taxpayers’ Alliance has done well for itself over the last few years, it still tends to have to do some actual work to get itself featured in the papers, spending money on paying someone to go through the jobs pages of the Guardian with a sneer and a calculator then sending out their report to the papers in the hope that someone that’s not a Tory blogger will stick it on page 8 with a quote. Mediawatch, on the other hand, only need to make sure that Beyer’s got a working phone line – though I suspect his track record is such you could construct a passable version of a Beyer quote if his line was down – and are guaranteed coverage any time there’s a slow news day.

Wouldn’t you be envious if your hard-crafted report on how much councils have overspent on paperclips and coffee in the past five years was overlooked in favour of a quick call to Beyer to generate a row? Or would you see him as the shining example of your trade, the man you hope to emulate while dreaming of tapping into the trans-Atlantic wingnut welfare circuit?

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I suppose I should be glad that my gym gives out free copies of the Daily Mail, because if they hadn’t, I’d never have known that they were posing the question of ‘Should Britain invade Zimbabwe?

For those of you wondering what might happen if Britain was to invade Zimbabwe, you’ll be glad to hear that everything goes wonderfully well and the whole thing’s over within a couple of hours, as soon as the Paras have arrested Mugabe and Trevor Phillips has been brought in to run the country instead. No, that last bit is seriously in there, which perhaps indicates that Richard Littlejohn is trying to earn himself a few extra pennies by working as a sub-editor on Friday nights.

Of course, the Mail knows this invasion would be easy because it has an expert source advising it on the feasibility of an invasion of Zimbabwe. Yes, occupying a similar place in the rankings of global military experts as Trevor Phillips does in the list of ‘people likely to be placed in charge of an African country’, the Mail has found ‘Graham’, a former Rhodesian SAS officer who wins this week’s Ahmed Chalabi Flowers and Cheering Crowds Award for telling us that invading Zimbabwe would be ‘a piece of piss’.

Of course, the reason for this piece of bizarre Daily Mail war-gaming – and, perhaps, why they’re not as ridiculously gung-ho about the idea of sending Our Boys off to tackle Mugabe as you might have expected them to be – is Tony Blair telling the world that retirement hasn’t dulled his desire for invading small and seemingly easily-defeatable countries. (As long as it’s not him doing any of the actual invading, of course). Showing that his talent for encapsulating the banality of evil in a simple soundbite hasn’t left him either, he tells us:

My idea of foreign policy is that if you can do something, you should do it.

So let us hope that Kim Jong-Il never decides to take a crash course in the Blair Method of Foreign Relations, where it seems possessing an ability requires it use regardless of other considerations. But, I’m sure that when the historians of the future look back on the last decade or so, that will be yet another utterance from Tony that will generate year upon year of heated debate as they wonder just how a man who could utter such statements was ever taken seriously.

But, we can hope for one thing – if Blair truly believes that those who can should, then he surely can’t complain when a country that can arrest him and put him on trial does so. Indeed, given his words, he’ll likely be disappointed with them if they choose not to do so.

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