Monday, February 02, 2015 

Who's winning the campaign before the campaign?

Most of you are probably familiar with Betteridge's law of headlines, popularised by John Rentoul as questions to which the answer is no.  Today's Graun front page for instance asks "Are insects the new sushi?"  This not only follows Betteridge's law, it asks whether something is the new something, which again, can nearly always be responded to with no.  To cap it all, if you bother to look at the piece, something I wouldn't advise, you'll find it's one of the Graun's sponsored articles, or in another words an advertorial.  Marvellous.

Every so often though you get a headline which doesn't adhere to the rule.  These I humbly suggest can nearly always be categorised as questions to which the answer is who gives a fuck.  The BBC, bless them, ask "Who won the social media Super Bowl?"  Is this, as a species, what we have become?  Where it's not enough to not care about the result of the most overblown and wretched sports event of the entire calendar, you also have to not care about who won the battle on Twitter and Facebook?  The Graun for some reason sent out a push notification about the Super Bowl getting under way; unless the mind's playing tricks, I can't remember them doing the same for the World Cup final.

Perhaps it's not surprising when one of the bigger news stories of last week was girlfriend of tennis player swears.  And then, ho ho, she responded to it yesterday by wearing a sweatshirt with the old parental advisory logo you sometimes got on CDs on it.  Everyone laughed.  Then cried.

Much the same ought to have gone for the comments of a certain Stefano Pessina, who until yesterday 99.9% of the country had never heard of.  He is of course CEO of everyone's favourite crap shop, Boots, a chain that mystifyingly continues to exist in spite of it how it does precisely nothing better than its rivals.  Its continued existence is no doubt helped by its tax arrangements, for which it has been hammered in the past.  You might then have thought Pessina, who naturally resides in Monaco, would have considered the potential consequences of launching the first attributable salvo from a business leader against Labour of the election campaign.  Not that Pessina could so much as put his finger on which Labour policies would be a "catastrophe", as he put it, probably because they're so benign they wouldn't make a scrap of difference, it was the mere intervention of such a titan of industry that really had an impact.

Stupidly wealthy man in not wanting to potentially hand over more tax shocker!  Except, such is the incredible bias against Labour, much as there was an incredible bias against Scottish independence, the merest utterance of an entrepreneur or chief executive of a fairly large company demands that anyone so much as thinking of voting for Red Ed or Yes should mull it over again.  Labour fighting back against such idiocy, which anyone even remotely fairly minded would consider to be par for the course, becomes "LABOUR'S WAR ON BOOTS THE CHEMIST".  Yes, because Pessina is Boots, isn't he?  There's always a danger in a mass employer commenting on politics, not least when most of those employees are likely to be young, female and low paid, and look favourably on Labour's catastrophic utterances.  Still, George Osborne clearly thought it was a great idea, so we can no doubt expect this to be just the first in a stream of wannabe John Galts denouncing the opposition's socialism.

The whole bash Labour as if they were an unstoppable political juggernaut and not an incredibly pusillanimous wee beastie campaign has undoubtedly commenced.  This is completely expected, yet still instructive for what it's distracting attention from.  Labour's re-running the 1992 campaign, sighs a man who ran a disastrous campaign of his own, and might just have a conflict of interest due to his private health interests, a message taken up not just by the right-wing press, but also by Newsnight.  Matthew d'Anconservative in the Graun says Miliband is ever more solitary, and it's true in the past the Conservatives have tended to make up lost ground in the last few months before an election.  Only, for everything supposedly in Labour's favour, little things like a growing economy, low unemployment (relatively, with the figures hiding a multitude of sins) and now also low inflation would normally signal a victory for the incumbents.

Instead they're still neck and neck, reduced to cringeworthy stunts like promising a return to learning by rote for the kiddies, presumably alongside compulsory semolina pudding at lunchtime.  Cameron can't even work out if the education budget will remain protected if they win, unsurprising considering the "colossal" cuts needing to be made to be able to reach a surplus and reduce taxes as promised.  There was almost no comment on George Osborne's refusal to spell out anything in his interview with Evan Davis, while Andy Burnham's frankly superior altercation with Kirsty Wark received far more attention.  The focus isn't however on a party that hasn't won an election for 23 years, and which at the moment shows no signs of breaking that record, it's on the one fighting to return to office after a single term out of power.

Only another three months to go.  Where's that social media Super Bowl article when you need it?

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Monday, February 13, 2012 

Understated headline of the day.

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Monday, August 30, 2010 

Great headline, crap article...

Shopping and FCUKing, anyone?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 

Breaking a habit of a lifetime.

However much you hate the Sun, you can't help but admit that this is one of the finest headlines in a long time:

Bongs away in Afghanistan

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