The aftermath of this election has really hit. Politics doesn’t stop, of course – the new MP’s are already being inducted, and the swearing in will take place tomorrow – and the recriminations have already begun.
Domestic political betting turns to the the battle to be the next Labour leader. The debate is already absolutely furious, and no wonder after that shellacking.
The battle is now for the direction of the party. Will it stay left, or will it go back firmly into the centre?
British voters, polled by YouGov, say more centrist than Jeremy Corbyn was, but:
44% of Brits (including 43% of Labour voters) say the next Labour leader should be more centrist than Jeremy Corbyn. 32% have no preference, while only 10% think they should be more left wing https://t.co/pfRenZ3WRi pic.twitter.com/1Ya6wfoap4
— YouGov (@YouGov) December 16, 2019
The obvious train of thought for many will be that the centre is the obvious place to return, but the post-mortem into this election will be complicated, deep and painful reading for all those who aren’t the Tories or the SNP (and even then the victory of the Scots may be phyrric).
However, the only data I’ve seen so far on why non-Labour voters made the choice they did is this:
We asked voters why they had not voted for particular parties in our on the day poll (12th December). For Labour the key issue was the leadership. pic.twitter.com/pu7iBWDp94
— Opinium (@OpiniumResearch) December 13, 2019
Whilst we’re at it, it’s worth talking about the rules of the contest. The candidates need to get the support of 10% of the combined parliamentary party and MEPs (although it’s not certain if MEP’s will still be around). Each will therefore need to get the backing of about 21 MPs to make it on to the ballot paper. For comparison, Jeremy Corbyn got 35.
There is also a new requirement set at the party conference last year for a candidate to also secure nominations from 5% of constituency parties or 5% of affiliates from three groupings, at least two of which must be trade unions. In other words, lots of grassroots.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, is now 7/4 after the apparent confirmation that she will run instead of Angela Rayner. That makes sense as she is close to Mr Corbyn’s inner circle and was chosen for the BBC and ITV debates too. With Rayner out, she’s obviously the strong favourite.
Then there’s Sir Keir Starmer. Excellent at the dispatch box, arguably the best politician that Remain has, and liked by many in the centre of the party, but perhaps seen as too much of a middle class Londoner? It’s a big question over the contenders as Labour seeks to rebuild.
I’ve got a big Betting People interview piece lined up and then I might get a chance to relax a bit over Christmas. Did I just say relax?
Until next time…..
Star Sports Bookmakers @KeejayOV2 tells Nina Hossain that Keir Starmer is the current favourite to be Jeremy Corbyn’s potential successor
— ITV News (@itvnews) December 12, 2019
The future of the country is at stake, and the key factor might well be error. If the margin of error for the poll average goes in Labour’s direction, then it is entirely possible there will be another Hung Parliament, and the country could well be heading for two more referendums and another General Election, all in less than 18 months.
If the poll averages are true, then this country is heading out of the European Union, possibly without a deal, and we are about to see a Conservative transformation of the country with far reaching effects.
As I write this, furiously prepping for tonight, hundreds of thousands of canvassers are trying to get out the voter in favour of their parties – and we’ won’t know the results until later tonight.
Where will you find out? Hopefully with me, on ITV’s election special, where I’ll be on the same programme as ITV’s National Editor Allegra Stratton, plus psephologists Professor Jane Green, a director of the British Election Study, and Professor Colin Rallings, ITV’s election analyst for nearly 30 years. Political Editor Robert Peston will be in the Election Newsroom with Peston show colleague Anushka Asthana, and ITV News presenter Nina Hossein.
Join us at 9.55!
It’s early. I’m watching Boris Johnson run into a fridge freezer. A fridge freezer, you exclaim? Why yes, yes indeed. Sigh. Here’s what happened:
Boris Johnson has been avoiding Good Morning Britain through the campaign. A GMB reporter (Jonathan Swain) asked him for an interview during a campaign stop in Pudsey (it’s in West Yorkshire). But the Prime Minister’s press secretary Rob Oxley (remember him?) declared ‘for f***s sake’ and blocked the reporter’s path.
And then he ran into a fridge freezer.
What a time to be alive.
One day to go before polling day. Today is all about prep and making sure that I’ve got as much on hand as possible. Timing is important – the first big result? Workington to my mind but you could say different.
These are what I have my eyes on. Darlington (predicted Tory in MRP) – if it goes Tory then it’s Majority territory according to many.
Bury North, Stockton South and Battersea among 28 seats Labour won off the Tories in 2017. These are part of a flood of seats from 2-3 that will tell us the major themes of the night. Bury South, Wrexham, Great Grimsby, Wolverhampton North East and West Bromwich West have all been tipped to go Tory from Labour.
In Scotland, Lanark and Hamilton East is a three-way ultra-marginal that could well give a steer as to how many seats the SNP can win from the Tories there.
Those will tell us about the major themes of the night in my eyes, but there are 80 or so seats that are up for grabs – it’s all to play for.
What a day. I was in the Racing Post and people were happy with it. What a moment. I know the post gets some pelters but it’s still something I feel lucky to have done.
Watch this space for tomorrow – I’m excited for it. Polling day’s only a couple of days away and I’m knee deep in prep for things to say. Here’s the round up:
God I’m tired. The text on this will be short but sweet. I won an award yesterday for my work at Star, and it’s not really sunk in. Today I’ve been writing a very exciting piece and also editing other things furiously.
A huge shout out to David Stewart, who edits this trail of thought tirelessly, my incredible family, and the many friends who have helped during this election too and before that. Here’s a recap of the past few days – which I’ve missed due to impending commitments – before we go into the week of weeks. I’m still not on the train……
Having thought about it in my head, I decide to visit Manchester for the trip, so it’s off to Euston. I’m only staying 5 mins away, so can get onto the 9.20 for a good quick getaway. I love Manchester and to get to use Virgin to go there is a double bonus, so I’m a happy bunny with my preview already sent off.
It turns out we’ve got a golf preview from Horseshoe, who’s backing Bubba in the Hero World Challenge. I love golf, but I’ll be frank with you – I hadn’t the fantiest idea that tournament was on. There always seems to be a tournament I had no idea about which is worth $10 million. I hope he wins but can’t say I’ll be gripped by each stroke.
I’m split about Virgin Trains – the Pendolinos are superb for comfort and The Shop should be mandatory on each service – but there are the service problems (to say the least) and things like this:
There are more delays like that on the service, which make doing anything seriously in Manchester very difficult. I mean, who goes backwards on the train?
The wi-fi (can you see I’m being picky with my travel) is also basically less than amazing, which would be much less of a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that my iPhone still seems determined to take me through the experiences of 2.5G (known as EDGE for tech nerds). Thank god for early filing and downloaded podcasts, something which I can forsee being a rule for the rest of the campaign at least.
There’s another discourse row brewing, perhaps the stupidest of the election. Jeremy Corbyn was asked by Julie Etchingham if he watches the Queen’s Speech. The answer is below but the long story short is that he doesn’t, clearly. It doesn’t matter to anyone, and didn’t matter to anyone before this, and probably won’t after we’ve all burnt our eyeballs to a crisp watching The Crown. Good to know the country’s stable though.
Not kidding but do people actually watch the Queen's speech why would you watch the Queen's speech, what weird social structure means in 2019 Corbyn can't just say "no of course I don't watch the Queen's speech". https://t.co/bazEJbveBv
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) December 4, 2019
At around 2, I make one of the bigger gambles of the campaign and decide to head to Glasgow. There’s tons of marginal seats and surely there’ll be interest. The train times also look reasonable and Star’s never been there – it’s a no brainer to take the good word to Scotland, surely?
It’s onto the train journey, which involves travelling on one of the nicer Northern Trains which has just been put onto the network. In other news, the pacers are being retired today. I only had the ‘pleasure’ of being on them once or twice but frankly for the fact they’re still the first choice on regional rail networks 30 years after their Frankenstein like creation tells you much that you’d need to know about the North-South divide.
The train journey to Glasgow from Wigan is good, although there’s a massive delay outside Carlisle which is confusing. I’ve no idea why it’s happening and my knee keeps playing up too, which is unhelpful as I’m trapped inside my seat. Curse my call to try and control that football all those years ago on astroturf. I feel free when I step onto Glasgow Central.
Glasgow is spellbinding. I pass the big STV studios and have a talk about the SNP with my cab driver. There’s a lot at stake here and I wish I could have gotten him out with the board for an interview.
I’m in a room with three beds and a sofa! Three! Shame I’m travelling solo. I don’t know how I’m getting home however, as you can see.
Until… next time?
Travel day. I am still undecided about where I go after here but the morning is a victory anyway because I’ve taken my over-the-shoulder bag, rather than my suitcase, and as such, I have so much more handsfree space. How on earth didn’t I think about this before?
I make the early service from Exeter and send off a preview for today’s football to David. It’s the Premier League’s debut on Amazon Prime, which has become a big talking point in itself. It’s a major moment – the first time that we’ve had an entire gameweek on an online only platform – and there’s many feelings about it.
It’s not the first big thing Prime has streamed before – they did the US Open – but that was generally viewed as anything from a disappointment to a disaster by those who watched live. One would hope the service has improved considerably otherwise the reaction isn’t going to be pretty.
It’s not like they’ve got a small set of fixtures either – three days, including the Merseyside Derby and also Manchester United v Tottenham. Break a leg, Bezos.
Trump is in town. His presence technically means that I am heading in the direction of the President, which is never a position I imagined myself being in. I don’t relish it, to be frank. In any case.
Trump manages to make only one foul-up (well, from the CCHQ view) in his initial press remarks – which lasted 52, yes 52 minutes – when he promises he won’t get involved with the election and then goes onto say that ‘Boris is doing a great job’. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The electioneering is going to be fierce this week. The Tories will likely push hard on defence, with Johnson and Raab at NATO, and the opposition parties will look for any way to link Trump, the NHS and Johnson together.
I arrive at my room. It’s tiny but I love it – small, functional and cosy with a proper desk and plugs. That’s all I want! I’m also literally about 10 mins walk from Euston and you can open it with a coded lock too. Why aren’t all my Airbnb’s like this, I wonder?
There’s a lot of heated debate about the NHS, and ‘selling it off’. Many of the arguments on this subject seem to focus around the NHS as a whole, but they miss the point. No single entity/government would want to buy the NHS as a whole, and take all the burdens it shoulders with it. What many private companies want is to gain access to the markets or the contracts that supply the services which the NHS uses, and the smallest changes in supply could mean massive changes at the point of service for most users.
Whilst it is overwhelmingly unlikely that the UK will have a US style health system, rises in the prices of the services or the materials that the NHS uses could easily have a major effect on those using it; and there are plenty of people who would tell you detailed examples of that.
Onwards, now, into the Big Smoke to try and get something from the day.
Until next time….
It’s a new week, the second last of the election. Some people get fatigue due to the fact that, well, it’s an election but this is arguably the most crucial week of it so far; The post ballots are being sent in at pace and there’s just enough time for things to change properly, and everyone but the Tories needs that to be the case. It’s 10 days until polling day, and you can still canvass the majority of your seat in that time, change enough minds to filp a tight race or, land an effective ad campaign – it’s been done before.
Labour have a new travel announcement. They’re promising to cut rail fares across the board by a third, although some of the rush-hour tickets would be as much as 76% cheaper than now. On top of that, they’re also going to give under 16’s free travel and build a central online booking portal without booking fees.
NEW: Labour vows to slash rail fares by a third from January if Jeremy Corbyn wins electionhttps://t.co/faBL986feS
— PoliticsHome (@politicshome) December 2, 2019
There’s the traditional arguments about the policy. You know the ones, usually fought between people who say it can’t be done and that it’s not been costed, and people who think the policy is a much needed idea with a huge amount of merit. For what it’s worth, the plan’s said to cost £1.5bn, with the funds being taken from Vehicle Exercise Duty.
Many people are arguing about the fact that cutting train fares is a subsidy to the rich, and especially those in the South East. Now this is technically true, but misses a different point, which is that the reason the large majority of train commuters are middle class are because they’re the only group that can realistically afford them, much like the same reason that the reason most rail users are in the South East (and going in and out of London) is because the most developed rail services by a long way are…. In London and the South East.
Many people who end up using their cars for commuting do so because they have no other choice, with local bus services that have been decimated over the past decade or so, or rail services that never worked properly anyway – hello there to the entire North, I send my love.
There’s also the environmental issue. The amount of journeys by car are being reduced but not by nearly enough to meet any meaningful environmental target and the roads are jam packed as it is; Something’s got to change, and if any Government wants to properly reduce emissions it means less cars on the road and less journeys by care.
In any case, the arguments here miss the point; more people would use trains if they could, but the high price and lack of accessibility for many mean it’s not an option – in other words, we can do better.
If you needed something inspiring today, then just see this below:
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) December 2, 2019
Whilst we’re here, it’s not the first brilliant piece of journalism to come out of BBC Breakfast this year, either.
Actually, another inspiring thing:
'Jack would be livid his death has been used to further an agenda of hate' | Dave Merritt https://t.co/sFuheAdGxv
— The Guardian (@guardian) December 2, 2019
There’s a lot of preparation that I’ve got to do for the week ahead. Truth be told, I don’t quite know where I’m going yet. London tomorrow is a certainty; After that it’s trickier. Manchester, Glasgow or both before I go to Southampton and Bristol? It depends.
In all this excitement planning for things, I’ve forgotten the FA Cup draw. I learn of it thanks to a mate who tells me we’ve got LEEDS. Christ, the scenes. There’s other highlights too – Liverpool v Everton, Wolves v Man Utd, and Middlesboro v Tottenham – whilst Manchester City get Port Vale. Some things never change eh? Something to look forward to.
Until next time…..
Can both sides lose an interview? I think that’s what’s just happened. Boris Johnson went on Marr, because – as you know – the BBC decided the public should have a chance to see the Prime Minister in the light of the awful events at London Bridge.
There are two reactions generally to the interview, from what I’ve seen. The first is that Marr wasn’t across the finite details of the legislation which is in the news – mainly the Detention for Public Protection (DPP) is a relative of the slightly more famous Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) – thankfully The Secret Barrister and other legal experts are. On this side of the argument, most observers also think that he didn’t manage to nail down Johnson in the way that Neil would have done.
The second reaction is that Marr was a hectoring, lecturing bore who, having read a week’s worth of Twitter comments saying that he’d be a pushover compared to Neil, tried too hard. Someone counted 143 interruptions in the whole interview, which wouldn’t be a surprise.
The biggest loser, if any, might be the BBC. Marr constantly pushed Johnson on many topics but Johnson’s verbal bulldozing in his answers, which contained as many falsehoods as ever, meant the two were constantly talking over each-other in what became a noisy, frustrating contest that didn’t provide the clarity of a set-piece Andrew Neil interview.
The public interest defence in having the Prime Minister available looks pitiful if he a) Uses the terror attack as a political set-piece b) Lies about the legislation he’s discussing for the majority of the issue and c) Refuses to have a set piece interview that every other leader’s had, and it’s impossible to think of any group that will have come away happy from that interview. Is there such a thing as a score defeat?
A shoutout for the producers here, who are often those who go through so much of the detail to brief the presenters. When you see Maitlis nailing down Prince Andrew, Emma Barnett at her very best, or one of those sensational Andrew Neil interview clips that has made it onto Social Media, it wasn’t just one person behind it, it was probably closer to ten.
That dominated the morning, after which I write a preview of Leicester v Everton. I can’t say I’m in much of a football mode today, as there’s top class racing about. Envoi Allen is an impressive winner of the Royal Bond, with Abracadabras close up. I don’t know where the winner will go – he could do either the Supreme or the Ballymore, but if you’ve got the pace for two miles around Fairyhouse, you’ve probably got the pace for the Supreme, a race often won by horses that go onto get further. Abradcadbras looked like he’d need much further than 2 miles in the Champion bumper and whilst he’s got plenty of toe, could he be the idea horse for a Ballymore?
There’s a raging debate over the Drinmore, and if Samcro would have won had he stayed up. He was going better than Fakir D’Oudaries before getting into the top of the fence and unseating Jack Kennedy two out, but Fakir is a battler to be fair to him and he had flown through every fence beforehand.
It’s obvious to say but surely the paths for the two should be for Fakir to go to the Arkle and Samcro the JLT; but don’t forget Burrows Saint, who made a joke of the opposition in the Irish National. I make a point of backing him for Aintree whilst I have the money to do so now.
There’s a big task to be done. The famous cabinet that everyone has come to know and love through my videos is going to be replaced! Which means moving about 200 bottles and glasses, and then the actual cabinet itself, and god knows how many hours that’s going to take. I was hoping for a nice walk today, too….
God I’m so comfortable. It’s about 4am and I’m watching David Warner and Marnus Labuchagne batter Pakistan all across Australis. I’m in a very comfortable box room, having unpacked for the best part of half an hour after filming several videos that, due to the interminable nature of the tripod – which is coming up short in every possible sense – and the cramped nature of the room. There are many frustrations when filming.
There’s also the issue of getting up, as I’m headed to Birmingham for another stop on the road. It’s a two-hour journey but without an Airbnb booked I don’t want to get there too late. An early train is around 9, but add in the packing I’ve got to do and I can’t leave too much to chance.
It’s a shame, as this is the second extremely comfortable bed I’ve had to leave early. I’ve had about 6 hours’ sleep over the past three days and all of it is in really comfortable beds. Is the most frustrating thing about GE2019 having to leave great beds?
I make my train to Birmingham, only to find out that it’s not a Voyager, which is the big train that makes the very loud grumbly noises at the station. This is not ideal, as they don’t have any plug sockets, and I need to get through this preview for the Ladbroke Trophy, and fast. That isn’t a problem in the First Class cabin, so an upgrade it is – thankfully only £11.
That’s the beginning of the issues. Firstly, my laptop appears to feel like it’s been up all night. That’s because it has. So a restart is needed. Whilst that’s out of the way., the internet connection is in the way. The CrossCountry wi-fi is so weak it wouldn’t be given 10-0 in a 0-80 at Taunton and my phone, which should be saving me from these situations,, seems either to find 2.5G, no signal, or an infuriating mix of both.
The Ladbroke Trophy preview is extremely difficult to write, and so is selecting a late entry to the Ten To Follow which is just jam packed with favourites. Needless to say, it’s not going to be a competition winner.
Birmingham New Street is a cavernous station that is meant to represent Progress Britain. A monstrous feat of engineering which is bursting with shops and restaurants, so that those from all walks of life can marvel at how good the city is. One problem: It doesn’t have a pub. Let me be massively clear about this; All train stations ought to have pubs.
I certainly think that some sort of Cathedral system – Cities in England need a Cathedral to be a City – and if a major train station doesn’t have a pub in it then it shouldn’t be a mainline train station. It is an entirely fair criticism to launch at any train station but Birmingham New Street has over eleven platforms. What an absolute disgrace.
The City of Birmingham is ramp packed. I know it’s Christmas market time but I could swing a cat in London or Manchester compared to this. I trek through the Christmas market and feel like I’m on a sort of moving tub.
The people are friendly though, and make it all work. I notice one big trend – and it’s likely turnout. Most respondents are convincing when they tell me they’ll vote, but they don’t appear to be doing so with much relish. It’s the story of the election in many ways.
That’s not to say that there aren’t serious supporters, however. A woman chants ‘Boris! Tories!’ at me, appearing to think that I’m A Conservative. It must be the suit. Someone else tells me: “Don’t be a class traitor – Vote Labour!” after a quick talk about the morals of Gambling and the upcoming vote.
I don’t feel as cold in Birmingham as I did in Cardiff but the hands do get clammy after a lot of takes, including many interrupted by people who appeared not to notice me filming. A big shoutout to, amongst others, the four women who quickly prevented themselves from interrupting a good take.
I see a shoplifter drop a bag after being chased by security staff whilst filming, a rather strange and grounding experience. She’s carrying an impressive amount of pace given how slippery things are out there, which probably shouldn’t be my first focus to be fair.
That’s enough, I think, so off to the station to get a train back to Exeter.
I wake up to a flood of numbers. The IFS has completed its review of the manifestos. It’s grim reading for both Labour and the Tories. It’s “highly likely” the Tories would end up spending more than their manifesto pledges and Labour would be unable to deliver its spending increases as it has promised.
The Lib Dems do best on the scores – I’m surprised not to see the party run harder with it.
I’ve got phone troubles again. The thing actually works but for some reason I keep losing 4G, either to be replaced by EDGE (which is basically 2.5 G) or having no signal at all. Thank god for wi-fi, but that’s not a help on the buses.
The rest of my day goes like this: Do enjoy.
It’s my birthday! I turn 25 with a lot more ahead of me than I thought I’d have and for that I’m thankful. I spend the first few minutes of it going through suits and trousers with my mum, having come in from the pub. It’s a welcome relief from what was such a grim day online. I’ve got two new ones now – in other words enough time to save before my legs grow fatter and I need to buy yet another one.
It might be a sign of success that I don’t spend much time thinking about where I’m at because I’ve got a lot ahead of me. I’ll probably review my progress at the end of the year, if at anytime. That’s good, right? I mean it’s certainly better than 24, at least. I don’t think about it too much as I put on All Out Politics (it’s the Sky News morning TV show. It’s exceptionally good.)
The morning is busy I’m packing for my trip to London. There’s an alert. It’s suggesting that Labour have a ‘major healthcare announcement’ to come at 10 – an hour. It means a lot of fast ironing and packing of various things, including a form for a new railcard. Yes, my railcard expired a week ago.
Heading to Labour event on NHS – Corbyn's team promising a 'major statement' – 10am…
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 27, 2019
I tune into the announcement. It’s Corbyn with some sort of campaign backdrop. He speaks about the NHS for 2 or 3 mins and then he brings out a number of heavily redacted documents – the same one he showed in the ITV debate. Then he pulls out a thick book of paper, which it turns out is the full, unredacted version.
"These uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson's denials in tatters."
Jeremy Corbyn says he has documents which "confirm" under Boris Johnson "the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale" to the US.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 27, 2019
It’s brilliant electioneering. God knows that Corbyn needed it – Andrew Neil (more on him later) monstered him yesterday well and truly and that will stick around for a good while, but if he had to do anything, it was land a big punch from the front foot. This was a big swinger to the right jaw (of the news cycle).
There’s already arguments about what exactly is in the document, and if it really related to the NHS. The evidence speaks for itself.
Drug patents are clearly on the table for trade talks with the US going forward 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/fKFzn1IA4t
— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 27, 2019
There’s going to be a furious debate about what exactly is in the documents or on the table but that isn’t going to hurt the Labour cause with this. Remember the Big Red Bus in 2016? And how every single Remainer you knew on Facebook shared a Fact Check of it, and every Brexiteer raged about Brussels?
They were all talking about how much money is actually sent to Brussels, and the number – nowhere close to £350m – was still huge to the large amount of voters.
This argument works the same way. People are talking about the NHS for a start, so there’s cut through. People are also going to be sharing clips of Corbyn holding up a huge document and hearing him talk about the NHS being up for sale. It’s an argument starter and before you know it people are talking about rising prices. The association is fear and uncertainty. Remember that people don’t trust politicians, which gives many arguments equal merit.
It’s also perfect for Facebook. Who’s going to read a 451-page doc? Let’s be honest, nobody. That’s for political wonks like me. Who’ll read a headline that will likely contain the words ‘NHS’, ‘Trade Deal’, and Sale? All the votes Labour needs to turn to win an election.
I’m on the train, having set off later than I’d wanted. Multiple video takes dragged out my day. Meanwhile, there’s another argument over at Millbank. Metaphorically, not literally although both are probably true. It is an election, after all.
Apparently Boris Johnson hasn’t agreed to an interview with Andrew Neil yet. I find this astonishing. Now booking political interviews is always difficult, a fraught process which involves many tiny questions and sub negotiations. I think of my days back to booking when I had work experience at the World Service and honestly wonder if I should sign up to negotiate the Brexit deal. It’d be easier.
For those asking when Boris Johnson's interview will take place, we're in ongoing discussions with his team but we haven't yet been able to fix a date
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) November 27, 2019
Lost career opportunities aside, I’m still baffled. It isn’t the fact that Johnson’s team haven’t given the go-ahead for the interview – strange as that is given how late we are in the campaign – but more that both Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn have both been given two of the toughest interviews of the campaign already, and Jo Swinson has already agreed to a date she presumably can’t pull out of now without great damage.
It’s possible, knowing the sort of people that inhabit his inner circle, that Boris Johnson’s team have told the BBC in principle that they’d sit him down for an interview, without confirmation. If that is to be the case, then one has to ask why exactly confirmation was not sought and who exactly the BBC are negotiating with.
In any case, it is unacceptable that interviews were recorded and aired without all of the parties having signed up. Theo Usherwood of LBC tweets a claim from a Labour source who says that the BBC had told them that Boris Johnson would do an Andrew Neil interview next week. According to the source, no such agreement had been reached. What is going on?
Labour source tells me BBC informed them Boris Johnson would do an Andrew Neil interview next week.
Turns out no such agreement had been reached.
If Tory leader isn't subjected to same scrutiny as Mr Corbyn, but his team was told he would be, that's a problem for the BBC. https://t.co/pQXkx9YTqf
— Theo Usherwood (@theousherwood) November 27, 2019
I keep wondering who the BBC were talking to from Johnson’s team. I can imagine negotiations involved Lee Cain, Johnson’s Press Officer, Rob Oxley, Downing Street Press Secretary, and James Slack, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson. Oh, and an obligatory mention on strategy for Dominic Cummings, because this isn’t a political analysis without him. What was their plan? Did they have this in mind? Is this part of a wider game theory for them? Who knows.
My honest feeling is that Johnson won’t turn up. It’s the sort of thing you can do when you have a ten-point lead. I struggle to remember a democratic event which has been so dictated by the polls. If that is the case, it will be devastating for the BBC. The wait begins.
It’s the Champions League, which I’m missing part of due to catching a late train, and my EE signal not working very well. I’m past Slough now and I’ve done enough of this, I think. What a way to start being 25. Another year in this Cool, Normal Country.
First things first, register to vote. This is the most importantly election of my time and there’s still a better than evens chance that’ll be the case ten years from now.
I wake up. Arguments are raging. No matter where I look, or to whom I listen, there are incredibly heated debates (to be kind) over all sorts of issues. The main one is over a huge intervention by the Chief Rabbi regarding anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The letter’s a scorching one. The killer line? There are quite a few bad ones but I think the sentence “…the very soul of our nation is at stake…” will linger in the memory.
I and many others are aware of the huge toll that anti-Semitism has taken on the Jewish population of the country. The experiences of so many that one can read and see are truly harrowing.
The Discourse on Twitter is particularly awful. One wonders just what it is that compels people to behave the way they have or to prove their most ardent critics so woefully right in such a short space of time. Can we all not do better, even if we don’t deserve it?
There’s rightfully, a lot of talk about the Tories’ own failure to deal with Islamophobia. The Muslim Council of Britain Issues a big and much needed statement providing solidarity with the Rabbi and also rightly putting the spotlight on the Tories and their lack of action regarding Islamophobia. It’s followed up on Politics Live too. The Discourse is caustic. Not a great day on this front.
Muslim Council of Britain accuses Tory Party of having a “blind spot” for Islamophobia and says it agrees with Chief Rabbi that people should “vote with their consciences”. Allegations of religious intolerance and racism are a problem for both Labour and Tories https://t.co/LhBMFA3mMg
— Robert Peston (@Peston) November 26, 2019
“Unfortunately Islamophobia is a serious problem, it’s endemic, it’s institutional within the Conservative Party”
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 26, 2019
The Chancellor seems to follow up with this effort. Truly an abysmal exchange, even by the standards of the current year.
A truly abysmal response to a situation which puts “the very soul of our nation is at stake” according to The Chief Rabbi https://t.co/ZNK7SiPG9j
— William Kedjanyi (@KeejayOV2) November 26, 2019
There’s another BBC issue. The link is below. It is dismaying.
5.30 am – the BBC invents a quote that child poverty only "could rise" under the Tories and uses it in their article, on their twitter, and as their headline.
9.30 am – the BBC tells the truth. The Resolution Foundation have said that child poverty "will rise" under the Tories. pic.twitter.com/5IUJagLg95
— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) November 26, 2019
I record a video on voter registration numbers. I’m happy they’re up and I hope there’s lots more although not all the applications are new voters. Long story short, the more voters we have the better, and the more new younger voters, the better is probably is for Labour, based on the data we have so far. But again, nothing is certain.
I want to make my position clear. I am a supporter of the BBC. It is one of Britain’s finest things. I believe in, and trust BBC News. Many good people work there and I do believe that they don’t come with a horrible hidden agenda (and even if it did, the bureaucracy of the BBC would make implementing one very difficult).
However, this latest occurrence is just one in a pattern. The cenotaph. The Johnson editing tape. Now this. It’s a poor look at the best. Now there is an explanation for it – namely that, when going through hundreds of thousands of hours of coverage, mistakes will be made. That is fair. We must remember that despite the standards we set, that these mighty organisations are staffed by humans and they are fallible.
The responses are important here, and unfortunately for the BBC they have been derisory at times. A big problem for the corporation is that honest mistakes are made, but not fully acknowledged, even in the heat of the moment. I do not believe that there is a groupthink when it comes to the BBC standing up for its work, but responses that range from pithy to extremely aggressive do absolutely nothing for it. Had there been a different tone from the beginning of – as an example – the Boris Johnson editing saga- things might have gone very differently.
I am grateful for the football. At the time of writing Spurs are winning but not covering the handicap. I was worried that Olympiakos would sit to deep and as such, make the game a tight one like their 2-0 defeat to Bayern and now I’m sat here fuming at the fact I didn’t go for Spurs and over 2.5 goals – swings and roundabouts. It’s been an odd day. Or not, as Kane has just scored.
Tomorrow is my birthday. Onwards….
Monday starts with a podcast recording. It’s for ‘Debated’, run by two people I’ve become friends with – Will Barber and Conrad Taylor – and then it’s onto Monday Night football. Lots to talk about.
It’s Aston Villa against Newcastle. A drop from the heady heights of Saturday and Sunday. I plump for Newcastle, who have mostly been playing well under Bruce and definitely don’t look like relegation material.
The rest of the day is spent recording videos for the Andrew Neil interview with Nicola Sturgeon and working on a preview that should be very interesting tomorrow. You can see the rest of my day here:
It’s Labour manifesto day. I don’t think it’s unfair to say it’s one of the biggest days of the election so far. In 2017 the manifesto leaked the the party actually benefitted; People liked the policies and Labour managed to dominate the airwaves, turning the conversation from Brexit to the home front.
That was then but they need more now. Yes, Corbyn made up plenty of ground in 2017 but May was more fallible than Johnson is now and he’s probably got less time to work with. Also, he doesn’t have the freshness of two years ago and so the prices matter even more now.
The launch comes. The manifesto is bursting at the seams with policy. I know they’re mean to be policy heavy but there’s about ten lines an editor could take from it. I THINK the feature is the housebuilding commitment. £75bn to build 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years. It’s Corbyn’s Labour to a tee; uncompromising, bold and extremely ambitious.
On my first read through I spot these plans. Reinstating 3,000 bus routes that have been cut. Introducing a second homes tax. Reversing inheritance tax cuts and imposing VAT on private school fees. Giving EU nationals living in UK the automatic right to stay (that was a contentious one). Free broadband for all (we’ve been here before) delivered by part-nationalising BT. A £3bn plan to offer adults in England free access to retraining (A Skills Wallet on steroids?). A pledge to reduce all primary school classes to fewer than 30 children. Free personal at-home care in England for over-65s most in need of it. I could go on.
The key is if it’ll land with the voters in the same way it did two years ago. There’s certainly enough polices in there that people will be really excited about, but it needs to capture either Lib Dems, or non-Labour voters. I think the country might be too polarised for swing voters to be a huge thing but that’s just a hunch.
There’s questions from the press. Corbyn and Rebecca Long-Bailey spend about half a minute telling audience not to boo Laura Kuenssberg. Long-Bailey calls on Kuenssberg and instantly there’s a cacophony of boos, which to be fair, the pair and the rest of the audience shut down. Good to know that we can all Stay On Our Various Bullshit.
— William Kedjanyi (@KeejayOV2) November 21, 2019
Corbyn doesn’t seem to have any issues with the questions and I record a reaction video to the manifesto. It’s one of the trickiest things I’ve had to do all year. I managed to get five of the policies in there.
A note for later. I see a picture of Laura Kuenssberg at Birmingham City’s University School. it’s the same place where a few people I get on very well from HuffPost with have set up a school with. It gives me flashbacks of UWE Bristol and chugging big cameras around to do packages in front of the fountains. I miss the uni days, for all that, when I’m not cursing an incorrect pronunciation or wrongly formatted tweet, this is a lot of fun.
@bbclaurak speaks to @bcumedia @BCUJournalism and gives advice on working in the media “ask every questions, there’s no such thing as a stupid question” @BCUPressOffice @MyBCU #DoMediaDifferently pic.twitter.com/j8LMspML52
— BCU School of Media (@bcumedia) November 21, 2019
— William Kedjanyi (@KeejayOV2) November 21, 2019
The morning after the night before. Everyone is foaming about the Tory dirty trick of pretending the CCHQ Press account was actually an independent fact-checker during the debate.
The Tories love these sort of stunts – they’re very good at making people have the sort of conversations that they want to have – but I’m not sure if it’ll work out. Usually when CCHQ grabs the conversation it’s around a figures that leads to a policy area, like the time they stuck the price tag on Labour’s spending promises, but all the coverage has just been roundly negative.
On this CCHQ/ Factcheck thing. Couple of thoughts spring to mind. Firstly the Tory social media team don't give a damn how things look and court controversy. Secondly they know that Twitter isn't 'real people' and is just a hornet's nest of news geeks they can poke a rise out of
— Joe Tidy (@joetidy) November 19, 2019
There’s always the debate about just who will hear it exactly, and many are sceptical that the story has reach outside of Twitter and the ‘Westminster Bubble’. I’m not sure that this is the case. Firstly, people misunderstand Twitter’s spread of influence. When the lobby, or other blue tick journalists catch on a story, it gets written up on their websites. Then it can spread to broadcasters very quickly, either through the paper reviews or original stories themselves.
It’s worth remembering that the publishers – both papers and Online companies – all go to Facebook for their stories, and then they get shared from there too. It’s 9am, the morning after, and the Fact Check story has been on Breakfast (BBC) and all over the Today programme. That’s a fair few million there, and it’s also on leading the One O’Clock news.
Another note. There’s a big argument about ‘Real People’. I’m very tired of hearing this. Firstly, it’s a bizarre way of dividing people based on class – it’ always used as a political term for blue-collar voters, and the usage is always outdated. ‘Real people’ are on Twitter (yes, they are on Twitter). ‘Real people’ also tend to listen to the radio and watch the news in large numbers still – and the story dominated the morning.
I have to move on, however, for a very special assignment. David – the editor of all things Star – has put me onto an FA Cup replay. Normal stuff to fill the rota. Except it’s not. For this is the mighty Darlington vs Walsall. That’s right. Darlington. David’s beloved Darlington.
It’s got to take priority, so it’s off to YouTube to get a grip on their style of play. I normally am not a fan of YouTube for lots of reasons, but it’s a great research tool. Stuff that I couldn’t imagined doing a decade ago is now possible and here I am watching highlights of an FA Cup first round game that was nowhere near the radar of TV.
I manage to spot a tactical change and then it’s off to the local newspapers to see what both sides make of the tie. Then it’s a slow and steady effort to make sure the preview is just perfect. I go for short but sweet, and Dave sends four pictures to choose from for the preview. They’re all lovely but all in summer.
Preview is sent. The Lib Dem manifesto is out now. It needs to be a good one as Jo Swinson has seen her ratings take a hit. That’s understandable – most politicians have that happen with increased exposure – but a bold manifesto will help matters a lot. I read through it – it’s my second of the campaign – and I seem to like it more than most others.
Jo Swinson: a case of familiarity breeds contempt? Jo Swinson's favourable rating is up only 3pts to 24% since she became Lib Dem leader, but her unfavourable rating has risen 19pts to 48% https://t.co/eu9wejjMvY pic.twitter.com/DID0Xis0JI
— YouGov (@YouGov) November 19, 2019
There’s a lot on the environment – I think only the Greens have more so far – and lots of spending on education. There’s a launch in a fancy nightclub which I can watch as my reward – yes, my reward – and Jo Swinson gives an enthusiastic launch speech.
The BBC switches to Laura Kuenssberg, who has the most fabulous sparkly black jacket. It’s even better as the launch is being held in Proud Nightclub in Camden. The Lib Dems have form for this, by the way – see previous editions. I’m mesmerised by Kuenssberg’s amazing jacket. I wonder how much it costs and wince, knowing how desperate I am for payday. I’ll still look though when I can get the time.
It’s now nearly 10. England are about to start the first test in New Zealand. I can’t wait – I absolutely live for test cricket. I am watching the end of the Darlington game. The mighty hosts launch a cross into the box but it’s just got too much on it and the game’s over. My tip wins and the hosts go out – another tricky day navigated. Now for an all-nighter.
Is it possible to draw a debate? The ITV head to head has just finished and YouGov’s poll gives Johnson the win, by 51%-49%. I think it’s fair. Johnson was better on Brexit, although he didn’t pull as far clear as some might have expected/he would have hoped. A nice cold one for the LOTO staffer who told him to use the reply that it would take at least seven years to negotiate a US trade deal, something he had the sense to use twice early on.
He also had a moment of genius when he produced a redacted document on secret trade talks between British civil servants and the Trump administration that talked about the NHS too.
But then came the clarity problem. It isn’t that Labour’s Brexit policy isn’t understandable – it is – it’s just not nearly as simple sounding or clear as the Tory slogans. The renegotiation aim is also tricky for Corbyn and Johnson lands some punches on Corbyn’s second referendum stance.
He also didn’t have a strong answer to Johnson’s claim that Labour would have to offer the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon an independence referendum, but that attack is to be expected. Scotland is going to be very hard for Corbyn in this election – I’m not sure what there is for him there, compared to say, Wales potentially.
Corbyn’s refusal to say whether he would campaign to leave or remain in the second referendum Labour would hold if elected causes problems and, for better or worse, will be a thorn in the campaign. However, we’ve talked a lot more about domestic policy than most people would have expected so far during the campaign.
Johnson could probably be called the winner of the first half of the debate on points, his home turf. It all feels very rushed though. I saw Julie Etchingham getting a lot of stick, but I’m not sure it was all her fault. The format doesn’t appear to be working and Johnson has gone over his allocated slot six times, by about 10 seconds on each occasion. The format doesn’t appear to be working.
Part 2 went Corbyn’s way, although not with a giant knockout blow and not by such a huge margin that you’d say this was a Clegg style gamechanger. He’s better on the NHS than Johnson is to my mind, and the audience seems to agree. An emotional plea on behalf of a friend who died just the day before from breast cancer is particularly powerful.
Johnson refers to Brexit a lot which makes the audience groan but it’s probably for the audience at home that already supported him. I’m not sure it was clippable, really – but he probably got his early ones in.
He does have a domestic win when Ethchingham asks him if he’s found a ‘magic money
Jeremy Corbyn if he’s “found two. There’s laughter before Johnson says Corbyn has “found an entire forest.” The audience loves it.
It’s now time for quick-fire questions. These were the ?’s if you missed them.
Is the monarch fit for purpose?
Corbyn: “needs improvement.”
Johnson: “Institution of monarchy is beyond reproach.”
Is Prince Andrew fit for purpose?
Corbyn: “We must think of the victims.”
Boris Johnson: “The law must take its course”
Corbyn comes across as better with the audience on those two questions and probably with most of the public too given how nobody believes Prince Andrews.
Which world leader do you admire?
Johnson: “All the EU27 because they gave me a great deal!”
Corbyn: “UN’s Secretary General António Guterres as he’s trying to bring people together”
There’s an awkward moment when the candidates are forced to be nice to eachother and pledge to be decent/shake hands etc. It’s a bit odd for 2019.
There’s a novelty question. What Christmas present would you leave each other?
Corbyn says a copy of a Christmas carol so he can understand what scrooge felt.
Johnson says a copy of his brilliant Brexit deal ..then adds a jar of damson jam.
The debate ended rather weakly and I’m not sure if either side won. CCHQ will be happier because they’ve got the lead and Johnson hasn’t had one big shocking moment. Labour will be pleased Corbyn outperformed the personal ratings by a long way – but they need to do more of that and fast if we’re to avoid a Tory majority.
The format doesn’t work – the audience has sophisticated and tough questions that you should be able to ask the people aiming to be Prime Minister, but the responses have to be cut short and too much is crammed into too short a space.
Onto the manifestos…..
Today is about catching up. First things first, a new phone. Sorted. Touchwood it works. I have to set it up again but it takes so much less time than it would have done a decade ago. Thank god for the cloud.
Then it’s writing the diary, posting some comments on political stories, and writing a football preview – Denmark going to Ireland.
It’s also the CBI Conference. This is basically a Party Conference but the party is business. Johnson, Corbyn and Swinson make their pitches – Johnson goes overtime and apparently nearly runs into Corbyn’s slot. Corbyn isn’t really that brilliant but this isn’t his bag. There’s a question about how he’s handled Antisemitism which ends with the line.
Swinson seems to do the best of the two despite a couple of odd and cheesy attack lines. She seems at home here but I imagine she’ll be fuming at losing the court case against ITV to be involved in the debate tomorrow. For what it’s worth, I agree with her – yes it’s unlikely she’ll be Prime Minister but we’ve had two Hung Parliaments in the last five years and you can’t say there won’t be one on December 12th – it’s not unreasonable to see the leaders of the third and fourth (yes, that’s what I said) largest parties against the two men who are likely to be elected Prime Minister.
Swinson rejects the idea of the SNP being in the debate because they’re not standing across the country. That may be true, but they’re the third largest party and very possibly the kingmakers of this election. It’s another Westminster snub to the SNP, who have been rebuffed by the three big Unionist parties of this election. One has to wonder if they’ll come to regret it in the future.
There’s a number of tweets about the amount of people registered to vote. The Electoral Commission is reporting that almost a third of under-25s have not registered to vote. The comparable figure for over-65s? 6%. I can’t profess to tell you how this election will end, but I think it’s fair to say that it will have consequences for decades to come.
Only one in four black and Asian people are registered. It’s a depressing number when you think about it. I’m inside politics and follow it each and every day, but the total amount of unregistered voters astonishes me. It’s nine million. Basically three quarters of an electorate by itself. Didn’t they say that Vote Leave won through first time voters?
Until next time…..
My phone, again. You must be tired of reading this because I am. It crashed during the Andrew Interview. I haven’t got time for this nonsense but my previews are with the editor at least. The same crew are heading upto Cheltenham.
It’s 7am and you might wonder why I’m up so early. I usually don’t sleep much on Sundays because of the morning shows – Ridge starts at 8.30 now and Marr has switched back to nine.
Anyway neither of those two are my first call. I tap into BBC Sounds (not using my phone) and head to Radio 4. The reason why? Sunday, a religious version of the Today programme ( that’s my best descripton). Why? It’s for my friend Nadine White, who partnered with Emma Youle for a truly tremendous story about SPAC Nation.
To explain, SPAC Nation is an Evangelical Church. There are a few here. It’s riddled with fraudsters who isolated vulnerable people from their families – and that is just the beginning of it. Some people were made to give their student loans – and others forced to take up out to £5,000. Conmen of the highest order.
Nadine and Emma, two proper ‘crack’ reporters (not just the kind that you see in the movies, like proper reporters) have done a huge amount and the details are ather stunning. It’s worth the early wake up.
I’m a political addict, so I watch Ridge for half an hour before swinging her to my mobile and then it’s Marr. The paper review on Marr is particularly good too. I know some people don’t like them but I think they’re a good fit when you’ve got politicians from each party, as long as they’re balanced (reasonably).
On Today’s it’s Jen Williams (from the Manchester Evening News), Miranda Green of The Financial Times and Liam Halligan of the Telegraph. I know that much of the print media is Tory supporting – and thus people get a bit upset with the paper review, – but when you’ve got people with different perspective and personalities, it works brilliantly.
All three are outstanding but Williams is the star – why don’t we have more local reporters on national programmes?
I’ve got to think about what to do with the phone. I try to book a Genius Bar appointment at Apple – another thing that is extremely difficult to do, honestly, just try it – and see only one for today. I decide I’ll have to go for it, but at least it’s after the Greatwood and at what should be half time in the Racing/Saracens game.
I watch a couple of rugby games, starting with split screening Northampton’s 25-14 win over Saints and Connacht’s 23-20 thriller against Montpellier. The Saints were better than the scoreline suggests and look rather menacing this season – Chris Boyd has got them purring this season.
Over at The Sportsground, something tells me Montpellier will be happy enough with a losing bonus point in Ireland, but it’s early days. I can’t say I took a huge amount from the game.
I’ve only got two fancies in the racing, neither truly confident ones – Saint Calavados in the Shloer Chase and Moinesur Lecoq in the Greatwood. The card is better than yesterday in my eyes.
The firm manages to win despite Duc De Beauchene winning as favourite in the first and we also managed to avoid the gamble on Diesel D’Allier. He was clearly well handicapped and looks sure to be on his way back soon although Urgent de Gregaine is miles the best at the weights. He might be worth backing ante-post for the Festival despite his rising years – I make a note of it.
I will admit I am totally shocked by the all the way win of Put The Kettle On in the Arkle Trial (pictured). On face value the result isn’t great for British novice chasing but Aidan Coleman rode the race to perfection and the ground surely suited the best stayer. It’s also another good on course book.
The Shloer isn’t so good personally as Saint Calvados is a disappointment in my eyes – Defi du Seuil is a game winner in a cracking duel – but a very enjoyable race. It’s a big form boost for Chacun Pour Soi and one can imagine Rich Ricci is feeling very chipper after the week’s events.
It’s the Greatwood next. I think I might get another winner with Moinesur Lecoq who hits the front but he pulled too hard too early and gets caught on the line by Harambe and Gumball. Can’t win them all. Dame De Compangie looks to be an eyecatcher, finishing a clear fifth after a marathon amount of time off, but I’m sure everyone else is saying it.
I’m at the Genius Bar now and I’m offered a swap for my iPhone if I come back in an hour. That’s perfect. I go to watch Racing beat Saracens silly (not the best week for them) and then come back only to realise that they don’t have the exact model so I’ve got to come back tomorrow. Another day, another saga.
I make more headway on the General Election preview whilst in town watching the game. It’s a rare treat if I don’t have to film but I reckon you’d increase the productivity of this country massively if we turned offices into pubs.
A tweet comes through. We’ve taken £165,000 on the Henderson bumper favourite Time Flies By. One last big one. I can’t watch the race so nervously look over my pint and refresh Twitter. It’s just like Ceefax isn’t it? I refresh the Racing TV Twitter feed. The winner? Israel Champion.
I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the office and the on course people have had a result and a decent day. Small margins.
Racing smash Saracens and look good doing but I’m not sure about what to make of the game. I return home frustrated and tired, and go for an early night.
Today is a big sporting day, the first one I can remember for a while. Ben, Flynn, Simon, Michelle, Lofty and Stephanie are all at Cheltenham and whilst there’s no football on, it’s also the opening weekend of the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Racing Saturdays have become different for me since I joined Star. It’s not only a battle to get winners, but also desperately hoping the on course news is good. The opener begins with Thyme Hill winning – not terrible for us on course, and not one I backed. He looks very impressive and a right stayer.
Then the Triumph trial, won impressively by Allmankind. I like what I see from him but the Triumph is routinely a race that seems to be won by horses to jump out of the scenes after Christmas. That said, the connections – the same ones of Big Orange – will feel happy enough with their prospect I’d say.
We win again because Mick Pastor comes nowhere. I didn’t get involved. I’m rather pleased about it. I don’t have a stake on the novices chase but we take a bet of £110,000 Wholestone, who find just enough up the hill. It’s odd how involved I am now. I see a replay and must admit to being impressed by the performance but I am gutted at the big bet copping. I wonder how Ben is, especially after Matt Chapman expresses delight at our loss. I guess it’s advertising, at least.
Onto the first of the TV races. I’d tipped Achilles on the basis of his impressive performances in the ground, top weight, and of course, yard – Venetia Williams can do anything with these horses too, especially off a break. Achille leads at a good pace and jumps well, but eventually is caught by West Approach, a classy horse who is swinging into the race under Robbie Power. He’s too quick after the last and what could have been a tasty pay-out for the blog.
Then it’s the BetVictor. This is another big one for both me – I have Eamon An Cnoic and Happy Diva against the field, on course Slate House and Siruh Du Lac are the big losers for the firm. At the beginning Warthog is leading and the pace looks OK – not mad hot, along with Siruh Du Lac. I worry a bit as it can be hard to come from behind in such big races around Cheltenham, and Siruh does take a lot of passing. Indeed, I was there when he wouldn’t be passed at the Festival in the plate.
Emanon An Cnoic is down after the second. How lovely. Happy Diva is well behind. I don’t know if this is good or bad but I’m a tad nervous. Slate House isn’t jumping. He hits one, and another, and another, and another. It’s now the back straight and he’s not jumped one yet.
Coming down the bottom of the hill and it turns out that Richard Patrick was right to get Happy Diva into the race slowly. He must be going well but my heart sinks again as Slate House, who has belted every fence on the course harder than Ben Stokes hitting a six, is somehow cruising. He must be short in running as he powers up the turn. The four jump the last together. Slate House lands too forward and then falls. He’s thankfully up OK. Now it’s Happy Diva (me) vs Brelan D’As and Warthog. Warthog fades after the past so Barry Geraghty throws everything at Brelan D’As who inches closer and closer whilst I hide behind the sofa, but Richard Patrick has enough to repel the closer and I have a winner. Easy game.
I take some time to decompress and watch the replay. I’m glad Slate House is OK, but on recollection he’d have been almost an odds on shot in my book to take the lot if he stood up, despite the weight and jumping. Lord knows what he’ll do when he sorts that out. Ryanair? You’ve seen stranger things.
In-between the racing, I’m watching the rugby. I absolutely adore the Champions Cup and am treated to an old style thriller between Bath and Ulster which is decided by the razor sharp kicking of John Cooney and then an incredible catch that Jacob Stockdale makes to literally prevent Bath from winning the game.
I miss Glasgow grinding out a win over Sale but split the afternoon between watching the racing and Leinster’s win over Benetton whilst Exeter demolish La Rochelle. It’s a huge win for the Chiefs they let a 17-0 lead go against Bristol and it makes for a decent afternoon, a couple of hours break from the campaign.
It’s eight or so PM and after doing the Sunday previews I settle in for one of the big events of the TV year – or so it feels like – in the Prince Andrew interview. You’ll probably have already seen Emily Maitlis somewhere or other about it but the interview was sealed by someone you haven’t heard of – Sam McAlister.
Sam is one of the army of BBC Newsnight staff who make the special stuff happen. Think of her as a Tom Malone to your Paul Nicholls, A Lord Grimthorpe to your Juddmonte etc. You’ll see the thrilling product, but without McAlister – who has a list of big interview scalps that’s probably longer and more impressive than Lionel Messi’s trophy cabinet in journalistic terms – it doesn’t happen.
I’ve got a spread in for this one. It sounds weird to be ready for an interview of this nature with Chinese, Beer, and Mince Pies (don’t look at me like that)
So we begin.
The opening 10 minutes are a forensic deconstruction of all the things that have happened in this saga so far. It’s already got to be a pretty brutal watch for anyone involved.
The real one on one begins. It is insane. Andrew and Epstein were friends but not “close” friends, according to him. Epstein visited Prince Andrew at Sandringham but it wasn’t a birthday party, just “a straightforward shooting weekend.” A straightforward shooting weekend, you see. Uncomplicated, simple, shooting. What a time to be alive. Especially if you’re the one doing the shooting,
We’re now onto that visit he took to Epstein’s residence in 2010. You know, the one Epstein’s conviction and imprisonment for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. Just that one. He said he had considered speaking to Epstein on the phone, but decided to meet him face-to-face “to show leadership”.
Apparently that face-to-face talk too four whole days, at Epstein’s home. The reason why? It was convenient. We are not even half an hour in.
You know what, no, I can’t let it slide. This is what he LITERALLY SAID.
“It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.”
IT TURNS OUT THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS.
So now to the grim question of if he actually had sex with Virginia Roberts-Giuffre on the supposed date (I’m not going to get lawyerly on this, you can Google).
He denies it of course. His explanation – I am literally typing this in awe as he is speaking – is that he’d spent the day in a Pizza Express in Woking. Yep, a Pizza Express, in Woking (pictured). What’s more, it was an unusual thing to do for him – “I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.”
But wait, there’s more. He couldn’t have bought her drinks at the Tramp nightclub because he didn’t know where the bar is. Extremely normal, Royal behaviour. He also couldn’t have sweated on the dancefloor because he was shot at in the Falklands.
I am not lying to you, if you haven’t seen this. He literally says this. I know some of you won’t believe this.
‘There’s a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time. Yes, I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falklands War, when I was shot at and I simply … it was almost impossible for me to sweat.’
My fingers are burning and my head is exploding. I am gripped to the television and touch typing this as he speaks – it is excoriating but I can’t stop.
This is him on a photograph taken of him and Epstein in Central Park. . We can’t find any evidence or my staff and my people and I can’t find any evidence to suggest that that was what he was doing. I mean, you can look at it in so many different ways.
“The fact of the matter is, is that somebody very cleverly took that photograph, it wasn’t as far as I remember nor do my security people remember, anybody being present or close because there were enough security around.”
Then there’s the million-pound question of if he regrets the friendship. It’s a 1.01 shot he says yes and gets a good news line for himself.
He responds no, because the opportunities he got and the people he met were ‘very useful’.
My beer is drained, my Chinese finished, and my TV remains unsmashed, somehow.
I am on my way home from watching England when two an alert pops up on my phone. It’s a text notification for the Daily Mirror’s political editor, Pippa Crear. She’s got an exclusive with John McDonnell and the feature policy is a pledge to provide free full-fibre broadband to every home and business in the UK, including part-nationalising BT and introducing a tax on the tech giants to help pay for it.
I see a BBC push alert and Laura Kuenssberg has an interview with McDonnell too where he fleshes out the policy. It’s only been a thing for 15 minutes and it’s already dominating the bulletins.
I watch the usual shows, Question Time, Brexitcast etc, and am a bit disappointed that a question I sent didn’t get through. That’s two negatives to add to the fact there was no racing at Cheltenham today. You can’t win them all.
It’s morning and everyone’s just talking about broadband. This is a masterclass from Labour in electioneering. It’s not even 10am and I’ve already lost count of the amount of people who have mentioned ‘Free fibre-optic broadband’ and Labour in the same sentence.
There’s debate ranging about if it’s possible, let alone wise, but suddenly we’re having the conversation that Labour wants – anyone remember Vote Leave in 2016? There we go.
The announcement seems to drive many people absolutely mad. Many of them seem to have gone over the edge on just how big the plan is – mind they’re still talking about it, and perhaps that’s helping Labour more – oh how the political week does change.
Labour say they’ll nationalise part of BT and there’s an awful lot of debate about that but I can’t help but think in one fell swoop, they’ve won the discourse battle. Just a month to go, eh? Also, an awful lot pf people seem not to think that we can aim to do better with broadband. Not sure they’d have liked me the last time my router went down.
The rest of the day is dominated by doing a Cheltenham preview – turns out that it’s on (Saturday at least) and I need heavy ground horses. I find three. Fingers crossed that they actually run to their best – I tend to be hit and miss on a bog. Oh, and I’m still writing the general Election preview.
Until Sunday (I won’t lie, a bit of relief when I wrote that), with a special thanks to David for editing what was a rather late entry this week.
Today’s going to be a short one. Firstly, because a whole lot is happening and secondly because I’m currently writing the big overall General Election preview. The latest NHS stats are out. They are bad. I could write a load of complicated stuff here but they’re basically the worst since records began.
There was a poll – conducted by Deltapoll I think – showing that 42% of voters hadn’t heard anything about the biggest stories through the first week, but the NHS is very different. It’s consistently a top three issue in any election and with the same polling company, was the second most important issue to voters when asked what matters most, either for themselves or ‘the country and their family’.
The Tories are still mega short and in the poll lead. That won’t change anytime soon but this is one of the dangers of a winter election – the NHS will come under the pump at some time, although even then, these are frankly dangerous results for a party that’s been in power for nine years. Bashing Jeremy Corbyn won’t help either. And don’t forget that other parties, not just Labour can make hay on this. This will be a long campaign.
There’s a Brexit Party candidate announcement – Michelle Dewberry is going stand for them in Hull. Turns out they’re still going to stand candidates in Labour held seats, which might cause the Tories a problem. It’s about midday and I’m recording a voice note for the boss. I look outside and to my amazement, it seems to be…. Snowing?
Until next time…..
I’m starting this early and I think it will be a short one because there’s a lot going on, to say the least. I’m getting into the thick of the constituencies. First is East Dunbartonshire. Jo Swinson won it in 2017 but a majority of 5,339 isn’t unsurpassable. Certainly not when you’re the SNP. Amy Callaghan is running to unseat her rather than John Nicholson this time. I do some digging and it turns out that she’s an office manager to an MSP and also worked for the Scottish Government. Not a bad CV at just 26.
There’s also a fascinating race in East Devon. The outgoing MP – Sir Hugo Swire – is being replaced by an ex BBC radio presenter (CCHQ will be hoping that this) appointment of a former BBC radio host works out better than the last one. Then there’s the Independent. Claire Wright is her name. She’s an ex-councillor who won more than 21,000 votes at the last election. As an INDEPENDENT. Then there’s Labour, the Lib Dems, and Greens into the mix. Nobody’s standing down because they don’t know how Wright would vote in Parliament and we’re 4/9 the Tories. Lord knows what’ll happen. Tremendous fun, when you think about it.
My iPhone is working – he says, hoping not to jinx it – but there’s no names assigned to numbers. That said, being free of a load of apps I was never going to use is sort of liberating. Oh and I can’t find out how to search in Outlook on mobile.
I’ve been on a Webinar today. I love talking about politics on any sort of panel. I don’t love that my Mac doesn’t recognise my camera. I power through as I’m on the panel with fellow political betting people – Matthew Shaddick (love him, genius) of Ladbrokes, Sarjbit Bakshi of Smarkets (also love him, also genius), Steve Donoughue (long-time gambling consultant) and Ted Menmuir (host and a very good guy who has helped me a lot).
The conversation goes well, and I get to talk about variance in the polls (there’s rather a lot, and basically it means that the polls could tell you very different things) and lots of other cool stuff.
I am getting into the thick of writing the election preview. It’s a mammoth one. One thing I’ve noticed is just how many winnable seats there are. The 31 most marginal seats all had majorities of less than 500 – infact, the 31st – yes, THIRTY-FIRST- most marginal seat is Inverclyde, and that has a majority of 381 votes. I cannot think of a football club which doesn’t have more than 381 people attending. This election? You haven’t seen a single thing yet.
One last thing. There’s a McDonalds strike. I’m not visiting the Yellow Arches until the strike’s over. The workers are asking for £15 an hour. Cue the usual derision from people who – rightly – ask why other industries don’t pay more. This is fair. But I am amazed at the amount of people whose argument for not raising fast food wages is “they just make burgers.” Let me correct you. No fast food worker you’ve ever seen has “just flipped burgers.” The entirety of the shop you’re in is completely run by the people inside it which means machinery, systems, and more is handed by the same people who hand you your food, collect your order and of course, cook your food. It’s not that easy.
Until next time….
Today’s diary might be shorter than the last because technology has once again ruined my morning. Why does this keep happening to me? I’m good at technology. I once had an interview for Apple. I was once tech support for John Lewis. Why me? Anyway I record some more videos on the election and then do some of the admin stuff I’ve been meaning to tackle.
I’ve got a betting people interview with someone whose name I can’t reveal. I’m looking forward to it but am also very nervous as the interviewee has been around in the game for decades. He’s got a book which will be read this week – is this the earliest I’ve ever prepared for an interview – if only you could install more memory into your head.
Hillary Clinton is on a BBC book tour. She’s on the Today programme and all over social media, calling for the release of the Russia Report (a report about Russia’s supposed meddling in elections) and making a fair stir. Clinton is one of many big figures who will always make a splash, but rarely change opinion. People know what they think of Clinton already and have done for years. It’s good for the audience figures, mind.
Clinton’s on the Emma Barnett Show and Barnett is talking about ‘gutsy women’. People call in to pay tribute to women who’ve made an impact in their lives – usually mums. I love my mum dearly, but this is a good moment to say thank you to Margaret Peddell and Pamela Herou, who make so much of what I do here work. A big hand to Sue Turner, who does the Christmas Party. I told her I’d have a Plus One for this year but haven’t found the time to ask anybody. Perhaps if my night out had gone better I could have taken someone….
It’s rota day. This is an exciting and hectic process where the ever-present Dave Stewart sets out what’s on the agenda for the week ahead. It also is the time I can make pitches for stuff to cover that I think will be read, or that I’ll enjoy, or both. (I tell Dave it’s always the former, but it’s always both). It’s international week, so we’ll do both England games, and the return of the European Rugby Champions Cup too. The European rugby is one of my highlights of the year – if you’ve ever watched international rugby and enjoyed it, you’d love it. We agree on both the England games – it’s just hit me that I look forward to them now. Could never have imagined saying that 5 years ago.
There’ll be something written about the General Election, which will be a marathon effort. I wonder if it should come after the candidates have all been declared – it’s all change each and every day at the moment. Over to you, Nigel…..
There’s a lot of fascinating polling around. See the latest below from YouGov, which has – Stephen Fisher, Tim Bale and Eilidh Macfarlane – three very smart people, just trust me on that – asking why people support Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. It turns out the most common reason by far is “to get Brexit done”, taking in 52%, yes 52% of the responses.
Why do people support Boris Johnson's Brexit deal? Few support it enthusiastically: most common reason by far is "to get Brexit done" (52%). Guest article by @StephenDFisher @EMMacfarlane_ @ProfTimBale on support for the deal and what it means for GE2019https://t.co/7barMKRULd pic.twitter.com/qLf3J9jT5o
— YouGov (@YouGov) November 12, 2019
Now it might depress some of you to hear or read this, but even if – and it is an if – the Conservatives win a majority, and then manage to pass Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, we then enter into phase two of the negotiations for a free trade deal. How long do they take? Years.
It took the EU and Canada seven years to finalise their trade deal, and the outline of a trade deal with Japan took longer for the two sides to negotiate.
Also, remember that the WA only covers so-called divorce issues (citizens’ rights, financial settlement, Ireland).
What? Yes, that’s right.
Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, the UK will move into a transition period and begin negotiating its long‐term relationship with the EU. In other words, we’ll still have to work out future trade and security arrangements, foreign policy cooperation, and a whole host of contentious things such as fishing etc.
In other words, this was supposed to be the easy part.
Some sad news. Frank Dobson has died. He was Blair’s first Health Secretary and according to the wise old held Joel Taylor he wasn’t threated well when it came to the 1st Mayoral race, but beforehand he’d been brilliant in pushing for more NHS funds.
The peerless Peter Barnes, one of the best minds and archivers the BBC has, pulled up his interview on Newsnight in 1998. It is one of the best interviews you’ll ever seen from a cabinet minister.
— Peter Barnes (@barnespa) November 12, 2019
Until next time…..
I wake to the sound of nuclear discourse. It’s the Today programme and Emily Thornberry is being asked about her nuclear weapons policy. All of the leading politicians are. National Security is obviously an important part of this but I have never understood the nuclear argument. It’s a deterrent because having it should mean the other side never needs to use it. What credentials does saying you’ll kill millions of people prove? Does it show you have the intelligence and decision making sills for international partnerships? The ability to keep your cool during a crisis? There are many reasons people for me not to like Jeremy Corbyn – I’m not here to judge either way – but not declaring you’d blow up millions of people is not one of them.
Another hour, another story. I’m too busy making sure I’ve got my head around the National League (just see later) but there’s a been a mix-up at the BBC about a wreath. Let me explain. So there’s a package – fancy news word for story – about the political leaders laying a wreath at the Centotaph. All normal stuff. But it’s not because when Boris Johnson is laying his wreath it’s not actually him from Sunday. It’s him from 2016. Needless to say people are mad. The unusual anger and suspicion at the BBC.
Dear Reader, I am about to confuse you.
Have you ever heard of Jupiter?
It’s the planet, right? No.
Jupiter, to me and a few thousand other people, means a giant TV clip system. If you had the sheer fortune/misfortune (delete as applicable) to be at the BBC, you knew it as the giant universe that had every single clip imaginable. Wanted to see Tom Taffe talk about Arkle in the lead up to the 1864 Gold Cup? Jupiter. The 1996 Greyhound Trophy? Jupiter. The 1993 Martell Aintree Hurdle? Jupiter.
But enough about what I did when I was at the BBC for two beautiful weeks.
Let me tell you about how Jupiter works, quickly.
It’s a giant archive machine that allows you to get footage for literally anything. You can search via date, time or just keyword. And when you do that, the whole video word is your oyster. Literally. You also get clips highlighted by the date they were added to the system, meaning it was entirely possible, for say, Denman’s Gold Cup to look like it happened yesterday.
Now this was an unfortunate mistake, and it does follow an unfortunate pattern of late (some mistakes being much worse than this). But given the hours you’d need to work to get a package ready for 6am – ie all night, usually having started by midnight at the latest – it’s not impossible to imagine someone dropping a bad clanger. Indeed, I’ve done it more than once for podcasts that I’d recorded in the same evening.
Also, as an aside, what is it with our remembrance discourse. Is there a single man, woman or child who isn’t aware of the scarifies so many have made? Did we not all stand silent at 11am Sunday or today? When all this is said or done, will those who thought so hard care about how a politician, adorned with a poppy, put a huge wreath on the cenotaph? Perhaps it’s just me.
I’m extremely pissed off. It’s my phone. Again. This time? Apps. Long story short – I’m sick and tired of going through it – WhatsApp doesn’t allow me to sign in and neither does Facebook Messenger.
Needless to say, the day’s communication is not easy. David – who makes this nonsense readable for you, as well as basically making this website function – can only be reached via Facebook messages on desktop, so I think breakfast can wait until I’m finished with… Harrogate v Portsmouth.
That’s done and then it’s onto politics. I’ve decided that today is the day where I start to dig into constituencies. First is Uxbridge and South Ruislip. It’s the Prime Minister’s seat, so no biggie. But he’s also got a majority of just 5,034. That’s not huge by any margin but it’s very small for a sitting Prime Minister. Oh and in case you didn’t know the Labour candidate Ali Milani cut his majority in half from 2015. And he’s got just the one target to focus on whilst Johnson will be here there and everywhere. I mean…….
Until next time …..
I watch the morning shows intently and record another video on the general state of the race but there are much bigger things going on. Remembrance Sunday is always poignant. We’re not a military family, but I couldn’t imagine what they go through.
Ridge is excellent again but I think the interview of the day goes to Andrew Marr. Political interviews are important for many reasons but perhaps it’s at its most vital when providing raw scrutiny of high profile politicians at times of national importance and there were few people more important than Sajid Javid, especially after the Tories had told the country that Labour wanted to spend £1.2 trillion – yes trillion – in Government.
That figure isn’t true. See below.
My quick analysis of how credible the Tory claims about Labour’s spending plans are. TLDR? Some are inflated. pic.twitter.com/suK44nly0D
— Rosamund Urwin (@RosamundUrwin) November 10, 2019
You might be asking why I’m boring you with this, but the message is important. The issue isn’t the figures. It’s the argument. Two of the biggest Sundays and all the political shows were deluged with people a) repeating trillion and b) talking about how much Labour will be spending.
It’s 2016 all over again. The figure on the side of the bus – yes, the f**king bus – was wrong by millions but the conversation was just the one that Vote Leave wanted. The rebuttals only made things worse – when your clarification is that we ‘only’ send more than £200 million, only one side’s winning.
This is very much the same thing – we’re all talking about how much Labour will be spending – but it might not be quite as effective – after all the Tories are ripping up the fiscal rulebooks.
CCHQ shouldn’t feel too confident though. I mean, there are five weeks left of this whole thing and it is 2019.
It’s the big football game of the day. Liverpool vs City. I’m looking forward to it with no real dog in the fight apart from correct scores. I’ve been picking them a lot lately as I haven’t seen anything that looks a proper solid bet. The game starts and City control the first three minutes. Then they have a penalty appeal; it’s waved away after the ball hit Trent Alexander-Arnold’s arm in Liverpool’s penalty box. The ref says play on and there’s a counter attack and Mane doesn’t find his man but a poor Gundogan clearance to Fabinho is rocketed past Bravo and it’s 1-0. City respond badly Andy Roberston bends in a brilliant ball and Salah gets there 1st. 2-0. Aguero and Sterling have good chances and miss them as De Bryune has Liverpool all ends up. Half time comes and City are on top but then Jordan Henderson gets a pinpoint cross in and Mane heads in. That’s the game done despite a late rally by City. The gap is eight points between Pool and the rest. Is it their year? It’s never done this side of Christmas.
Pep is fuming at the ref and his team. If you haven’t seen the reaction GIFs you really should. I hope he goes ballistic during the interview but I’m left disappointed.
What a week.
This is supposed to be a rest of sorts from the campaign but I am sadly mistaken. I will not bore you with the details, but how hard is it to not be massively racist or anti-semitic? Like, at any point through your life?
A break from the election, after watching the fantastically impressive Sophy Ridge on Saturday (yes, Saturday). Is it just me, or is she underrated? Ridge is determined, forensic, tremendously well briefed and extremely tactful, all of which adds up to an interviewing experience that benefits both interviewee and viewer. And she’s been in this form for months. The packages – where she goes to cities and meets ‘regular people’ – break up the interviews brilliantly too.
I re-record the videos I lost yesterday and then get a chance to watch some jump racing. Midway through the afternoon, I get wind of a mega bet we’ve had. It’s £125,000…. On Logan Paul to beat KSI.
Now six years ago, I knew KSI – not personally – as a YouTuber who played a lot of FIFA. That was it. I first heard of Logan Paul when he got into a lot of trouble for posting a video showing the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan at the backend of last year. I watched the fight between the pair last year and wasn’t impressed. Long story short, I have no interest in either of these two people, and never once in my life imagined that the biggest bet of the weekend – and the most important one – would be on two YouTubers fighting.
After a long day – making the betting update is not as simple as one would suggest – I head out to watch the Arsenal game. I was meant to be getting something at Boots but dad argued I had enough Dove at home (yes I am talking about body moisturiser, it’s important).
I catch up on some podcasts. The first is Electioncast. If you’re not a podcast or political nerd, it’s basically BBC correspondents talking to each other and going over the day’s developments. I’m a big supporter of the BBC so I am biased here, but I love it. The additional space – most episodes are 18-30 mins long – gives the BBC correspondents more space to be at their best and it really shows, along with being able to cover more. In a day and age when people are often angry at the BBC for covering it
Adam Fleming – the BBC’s Brussels Reporter – hosts, and seems to be relishing it, and it means a daily dose of Laura Kuenssberg too (I’m a big fan of hers, so biased here). And who doesn’t love Chris Mason?
I go from one pub to another – I’m not fully engaged with the game and will watch highlights later – and see some old pals, so I eventually let myself do some actual dancing. Yes, actual dancing. See here:
I then say my goodbyes – too much dancing isn’t my thing – and end up in another nightclub. A woman in a very pretty dress (lots of flowers etc etc) comes to me and starts dancing. So I think – fine, let’s go again. Something might come of this – how many chances will I have to meet people over the next five weeks after all? (In the night out context, of course).
The woman in the nice dress has some nice friends so we get talking about the usual nightclub stuff – anything to keep the conversation going, that’s my strategy – and things go well. I can’t remember any of their names now – I think one was called Georgia perhaps? But things seemed to be going well. We even did some dancing. I met a very nice pair of ladies, one having their birthday, and somehow ended up being asked for a photo.
— William Kedjanyi (@KeejayOV2) November 9, 2019
Dear Reader, it did not end up so well.
— William Kedjanyi (@KeejayOV2) November 9, 2019
Oh and PS: She did dance around the pole, then went to try and make a fancy move and slammed into it. It was like something from You’ve Been Framed.
Who has had the worst start to this General Election? The Tories? The Labour Party? Or is it my new iPhone, which has crashed itself for the third time in six days? In case you can’t tell, I am frustrated. I’m at the Apple Store and I am frustrated. Yet again my iPhone is causing me issues. It starts when a video I’ve taken regarding the SNP doesn’t show up in my photos. How strange. I look to the bottom to see where it’s gone and I’m told that my photos are being restored from iCloud. I go to my setting to see why this is and apparently it’s at 1% restore. This is not good.
I take two more videos – both disappear – and am becoming frustrated, so think – let’s restart the phone. Bad call. For the next 25 swear filled minutes of my life, I once again watch a shiny white Apple tease me before deciding I have to go to the store. So it’s a taxi down to town and then a wait of half an hour to get seen.
Then we have a sitdown and I explain what’s happened. We have two options. 1st is the update. It doesn’t work. Then the restore. We have success of some kind but I need to set up again. Back to the white ‘Hello’ screen we go. I have to set up FaceID now. I take off my glasses for some reason. This is like a passport check in, but worse.
I enter a code and wait for my iPhone to begin re-downloading from my backup. The issue? There might be a bug, and the same issue could happen again, the nice woman tells me. The other option is a hard-restart. Each. Individual app. One. By. Stinking. One. If that’s going to happen, it’s not happening today. I choose to restore from the backup whilst cursing under my breath with extraordinary coarseness.
That cursing increases, and rapidly, when my Mac refuses to receive a code I need to start this process. Two-factor-authentication? God forbid. The restore begins. I have a new passcode and a new face now. I can’t skip setting Apple Pay, despite the fact that looking at my bank account or anything to do with my cards. I also have a previous Apple ID, the password to which I cannot remember. I feel less good about being able to tell you that 100% of Norwich’s games at Carrow Road have seen over 2.5 goals, or that the SNP have been in some sort of Government role in Scotland since 2007.
Success! I think that I am home and dry. DEFEAT. The Apple is back but with some sort of progress bar on it. What is happening? AT LAST! I see my old lock screen.
Catching up could take a while. Until next time……
Today is going to be busy. There are speeches from the Chancellor (Sajid Javid) and the Shadow Chancellor (John McDonnell) to start. Both are going to spend a lot more than most Governments have but Labour are proposing an extra £50bn a year v £20-25bn for the Tories. It matters because already domestic politics is taking a hold here and Labour must win the economic argument to get close to Downing Street. We’re only in the 1st week and already these battles are crucial.
I record a diary through it and then look back at an interesting email that’s been sent to me – the prices we had for the last General Election. It’s only been two and a bit years since the last one but already there’s been a lifetime since then. May was 1/12 to still be the PM on the 1st July, The Tories were 1/12 for the most seats, and 1/6 for a majority… wait a hot second, what year is this?
There’s a Remain Alliance. It’s official now, between the The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party. There’s 61 seats involved. I won’t list them for you but here’s a picture if you want to take a look:
Here are the 60 seats where the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid have agreed pro-Remain electoral pacts pic.twitter.com/D9XanMyfHq
— Adam Payne (@adampayne26) November 7, 2019
Long story short, the Lib Dems are the big winners. A clear run in 43 seats that they didn’t have before. Plaid have done handily too, getting a clear run in 7. The Greens have a good shot at 10 – not bad for them either. It remains to be seen how well it will work but plenty of friends I know are happy with themselves after. We shall see.
I get out of the house to write this. You can see on the video there where I am. The ground is all wet with dead leaves and absolutely treacherous. My trainers have lost all grip, so I walk like Bambi On Ice, absolutely determined to avoid the nightmare of Brighton, when I was travelling to Labour Party conference, dropped my bag too hard on the train (well it was the Victoria Line tube to get to Victoria, if you must know), and ended up taking my laptop out of action for a day and a half. £200, that cost me, if you’re asking. Cable connectors are expensive things.
It’s Thursday, so that means Question Time. I’ll watch it later with some mince pies. I see a tweet from the boss about how he’s not had one yet. I am astonished. I am on 5 and I will double that today. As far as I’m concerned, from the first day of November it’s OK to do Christmas stuff. November and December. Those are the two months.
Mince pies? Get them in there. Christmas tree? Why the hell not? Decorations? Free country. Just as long as it’s the 1st or later.
That’s fair, right?
I wake to Tory chaos. Yesterday Jacob Rees-Mogg was on with Nick Ferrari, conducting a radio phone in. It’s all going normally until he says this. “The more one’s read over the weekend about the report and about the chances of people surviving, if you just ignore what you’re told and leave you are so much safer.
“And I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen.”
The condemnation is absolutely instant from all sides and he apologises. Not the best start.
Time passes, videos are recorded, mince pies brought (it’s November, don’t look at me like that), and it’s now 5pm so I’m listening to PM. Evan Davies is interviewing Andrew Bridgen about the comments. I can’t really describe them properly, so just read on here but I had to write them down to believe them.
Bridgen: “Jacob is a good friend of mine. An extremely intelligent and compassionate human being… Jacob is a leader, he’s an authority figure. What he’s failed to realise is that in a life threatening and stressful situation, most people would probably defer to the advice of an authority figure – be that someone from the fire authority or the police – and not come to their own conclusions. As we know with regard Grenfell, that advice was flawed.”
Davis: “Do you think he meant to say that he thought he would not have stayed out?”
Bridgen: “That’s what he meant to say! That’s what he meant to say!”
It… got worse.
Bridgen: “But we want very clever people running the country, don’t we Evan? “That’s a by-product of what Jacob is. And that’s why he’s in a position of authority. What he’s actually saying is that he would have given a better decision than the authority figures who gave that advice. But there is absolutely no malice…”
So just after Rees-Mogg had apologised, now Bridgen has given them an almighty headeache.
Then another thing. I don’t watch Good Morning Britain – I think that Breakfast is far superior and I love radio – but it turns out that the Tories have apparently doctored a video of Sir Keir Starmer talking about Brexit.
In the Tory version of the interview, which the party put out on social media, Starmer is basically stumped being asked about Labour’s position on the EU, with his face appearing under the caption “Labour has no plan for Brexit”.
Except… that’s not what happened. Starmer actually gave a lengthy answer.
You know you’ve screwed up when even Piers Morgan said way the video was edited by the Tories was “misleading and unfair”.
The Conservative chairman, James Cleverly, went out to defend the interview on a morning media round. All I will say is that it did not go well.
First he got skewered by Piers Morgan, then “obviously edited” and denied it had been “doctored.” Then he went to TalkRadio to have an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer, and that is where this happened:
Note to politicians: it’s probably easier if you just come on. pic.twitter.com/JJChFrQmhR
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) November 6, 2019
All this and they haven’t even launched their campaign yet before the Welsh Secretary has to resign. You can read on that for yourself. A top start for the evens shots to win a majority.
The Greens also have their launch. Not many people in the punting world might notice this but 506,000 votes can have influence in the right places and I wonder where they’ll stand aside for the Remain Alliance – there are some close seats already….
Another day, another launch. We start with the Lib Dems in Westminster. I wait to record a video, whilst watching Jo Swinson talk about how she’s standing to be Prime Minister. I’ve no doubt that she’s a better candidate for the Lib Dems than Tim Farron (just YouTube him) and Vince Cable, but I wonder what will be the case if she gets a handy amount of seats and ends up being Kingmaker. No, I don’t see her getting a majority.
She tells the audience that she’s not going to put either Corbyn or Johnson into Government. This is understandable from the sense that she’s going for disaffected voters from both parties but then she’s asked a good question about Independence. She says she wouldn’t rule out putting any Labour leader into Number 10 who said they would allow a second IndyRef but hasn’t said she’d the let the SNP have one. What’s that about going in circles?
Then I look back – I’ve got to get filming now – and she’s talking about Corbyn and nuclear subs. Apparently, Jo Swinson’s first and instant response was that he would not be prepared to order submarine commanders to fire nuclear missiles when asked about why he shouldn’t be Prime Minister. Good to know this will be a calm election.
Those readers who know me will be aware of the fact that I am a big watcher of much BBC political programming – including Politics Live. I have to miss large parts of today’s programme because I’m filming a Labour video but I’m done and about to begin editing the takes.
When I’ve finally got a decent run at things I switch the programme back on and come out of my editing bubble. There’s a long argument about Labour’s Brexit position which involved many people saying that it’s not clear. This baffles me. The Labour Position is to get a new deal and then put it against Remain in a second referendum. What sort of deal, and how many of the party campaign for it, we will learn later but I struggle to find out what is difficult about understanding this position; It is surely a vote to try again, if nothing else. Or is it just me?
An exciting evening is planned. Not just because the Champions League is back – and god I love that competition more than anything – but also because we’ve got constituency betting coming soon. For the last 6 days MRP – a fancy way of polling for those who have never heard of it – has been used for tactical voting websites and people have been losing their marbles on it.
I’ve been inundated with requests for seat by seat betting. I check my work emails and the maestro Gary Burton says that he’s on it. I gather my spreadsheets and wait for the battle to begin.
Until next time….
I know I’ve said it before, but things are really kicking into gear now. I’ve got to write a Melbourne Cup preview, so that is one of the first orders of the day as we have a couple more launch events.
The first is Plaid. We’ve got a seat tally for them of 5 or more – essentially bang on the money for their 2017 performance. Adam Price, their leader, seems energised enough but Wales will be a big battleground with 40 seats up for grabs.
Then to the Brexit Party launching candidates. I can’t help but feel that it’s rather symbolic that all people are listening to is Richard Tice and Nigel Farage. Farage tells the audience that May’s deal is “something you only sign after you’ve been defeated in war.” Good to see that the temperature is coming down, eh?
There’s a big argument about TV debates, as ITV had a head to head between Corbyn and Johnson for one, which, let’s be honest, makes sense. Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, is very upset she’s not been invited. This is also valid. It’s become a story in itself, and one the Lib Dems use to campaign well, so Sky offer a three-way debate.
Then Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, shows her frustrating – and why not, the SNP being the largest party. I wonder which broadcaster will be smart enough to offer a head to head between Sturgeon and Swinson……
As I write this, there’s been a new speaker elected. It’s Sir Linsday Hoyle, who was one of the three deputies under Bercow. He was odds on and with good reason, as he’d done budgets beforehand with aplomb, had been there at all the big moments, and had also promised to tackle lots of the internal issues of Parliament too.
Many people will miss Bercow and his fanfare – and things certainly will be less shouty and PMQ’s less long – but don’t underestimate how important Hoyle will be. This new Parliament will have a huge amount on its plate, and many big calls to make on Brexit regardless of who comes back to the green benches.
Now off to watch the Melbourne Cup. I really hope the ground is as soft as I’m told it is out there… Until next time….
Friday starts with the launch of the Brexit Party’s campaign. It’s more formal than most of their rallies, which involve big crowds going bananas to populist speeches – it’s a bit lazy to call it a British Trump Rally but you get the picture if you’ve never been to one.
There isn’t anywhere near the energy of the Labour rally – at least that’s how it looks from hundreds of miles away – but it created the big news of the day – Nigel Farage likely to stand across the country instead of having a narrow focus in the seats. And yes, I know that he said any Tories who renounced the Brexit deal would get the benefit of the doubt, but if I suddenly told Ben Keith I’d keep working for Star if I could have his house then there’s only one way that conversation would end.
A couple of thoughts on the Brexit Party position going forward:
- For all Farage has a big base, will it be much harder for him to get people to turn against this Withdrawal Agreement than May’s? Of those who had heard about his Deal in Mid-October (Survation) 90% of Conservative voters supported it, 73% of Leavers supported it, & a huge 67% of Brexit Party voters supported it. The Brexit Party voters would be likely to turn back to him, but will they alone be enough? Will fatigue mean people accept the deal? Better this Brexit than no Brexit at all?
- The Brexit Party might have come a long way in short space of time, but their ground game still can’t be as developed as those of the other big parties that they’ll be fighting – and they will be aiming to take on Labour as well as the Tories in a number of their key target seats.
- So too will candidate selection. Many of the most notable and popular Brexit Party figures are already MEP’s. Even Nigel Farage’s time is limited but in an election many are already saying will just come down to 650 individual contests, will the candidates prove upto the task?
It’s the Breeders’ Cup tonight and I’m looking forward to it. My form research might be a little off given that the last numbers going through my head were all polls, but I do enjoy the event. I might venture out to the pub for it. Then tomorrow, we’ve got the Rugby World Cup final. I’ve staked a fair bit on it, because I didn’t have enough stress in my life. I’m desperately hoping England win but a tight game with a drop goal would be ideal. I don’t half ask for much, do I?
Mum is better today, which was a good start. Also, in case you didn’t know, it’s Poppy season. So when I logged into Facebook, I was delighted to be greeted with this.
I’ve had a lot to do today. Firstly, some boring stuff – a new phone – an upgrade, since I was well overdue. Thankfully it was sorted and I was able to get back to work soon. It’s a half and half day, split between working on the election.
Then I went and watched the Labour Launch. It was very similar to 2017. A bold, radical offering which focused on domestic policy and trying to transform the economy and the British way of life with it. It didn’t move the needle much – we’re still 13/2 on Labour for the most seats – but it’s notable how much happier the labour campaigners are when they’re talking about their agenda and I wouldn’t underrate that factor again.
A personal note. Much of the launch was actually rather nice, but there was a sign of the rather rotten times we do live in when we heard BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg & Sky’s Beth Rigby get boos. Many of those in the audience didn’t like the questions Jeremy Corbyn was asked, but does that make the booing anything less than abysmal and infuriating behaviour? I didn’t think so.
The polls are causing some consternation again. First, there’s the Big Tory Lead ™ – which was 17 points with IPSOS Mori and 15 points with YouGov. This is all well and good for Tories and their odds on backers, but in racing terms we have just left the stalls. Good things could well come to those who wait here….
I’m listening right now to LBC. Nigel Farage has an interview with Donald Trump. The headline seems to be that Trump has told him Corbyn “would be so bad for your country, he’d take you into such bad places.” LBC put that out at 5:30 or so but it appears to have backfired judged by these tweets.
Donald Trump is trying to interfere in Britain’s election to get his friend Boris Johnson elected.
It was Trump who said in June the NHS is “on the table”. And he knows if Labour wins US corporations won’t get their hands on it.
Our NHS is not for sale.pic.twitter.com/AUhht3pCgL
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 31, 2019
Trump attacks Corbyn on Nigel Farage’s propaganda slot?
Short of an endorsement from Beyoncé herself, Labour really couldn’t have hoped for better. pic.twitter.com/hEYnB401xN
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) October 31, 2019
It’s worth remembering that 67% of Britons have an unfavourable view of Trump according to YouGov, for a start – and for a party of the left, who seeks to portray themselves as guardians of the NHS, having a Republican President call your leader ‘terrible’ is basically a free campaign advertisement. That said, I’m not sure CCHQ set it up. It remains to be seen how things such as this play out, but I am guessing one of the most famous men in the world might not move the needle much here. We shall see……
So we haven’t even begun and yet we know who will decide the next election. He’s an older, white, non-graduate man from areas in the North of England with strong rugby league traditions which tend to vote Labour. He’s called ‘Workington Man’. A Tory think tank created him and apparently he’s the only voter worth targeting now, which will make all the women in this country rather annoyed. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
Mum has to come home because she’s not feeling well. I get her some water and tea and then there’s the last PMQ’s and I begin eyeing up some big plans. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
There’s a new whiteboard potentially on its way and I’m already thinking about travel. There are over 10 Scottish seats in the 30 most marginal seats and the North West is there too. Time to take the board for a spin in the future, I think. I wonder how ‘Bet With Star’ sounds with in a Scottish Accent. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
So we’ve got a General Election. I felt weird when the vote was announced, despite the fact I’d been waiting for it for what felt like a year or so. We all knew when Iain – a BBC correspondent who knows Labour inside out – tweeted that the Shadow Cabinet would be backing it. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
The day was spent in anticipation, going back and forth with Star’s Gary Burton about what odds we’d have. This is always a tricky process – you want to have all the markets in the world but you also can’t afford to be picked off left right and centre – but we managed it and had popular offering for the ‘Next Government After the General Election’ which covers coalitions. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
Labour are 13/2 (13.33%) to win the most seats and 16/1 (5.88%) for a majority, and it’s 66/1 (5.88%) that we have a Lib Dem majority. Someone should get in contact with Jo Swinson. Perhaps I will. You never know, she might be a punter. I grab what I think might be the last half decent night’s sleep in the next three months. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
The vote is called and the prices are up. We go 1/8 (an 88.5% chance in layman’s terms) on the Tories to win the most seats December, and 5/6 (54.65%) for a Tory majority. STAR GENERAL ELECTION MARKETS
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.