Tuesday 17 December 2019

The Aftermath, Part 3 - Who Is To Blame?

So, following the catastrophe that overtook the Labour Party last week, blame is inevitably being directed at Corbyn.  As pointed out in my last post, there is some dubiour research that supports that conclusion, if you are minded to accpet it at face value.

I think, however, that blaming Corbyn's leadership, or lack there of demonstrates a massive misunderstanding about the situation confronting the Labour Party.  Corbyn and his adherents are being demonised and portrayed as something to be crushed and driven out of the party, like fleas or ants. It works on the assumption that once Corbyn and the Corbynistas have been eradicated then everything will be okay again.

I think this is, fundamentally, missing the point.

Corbyn is not the disease, he is the symptom of the disease. His election in 2015 was not some whimsical decision by the membership, a jolly jape they decided on without thought to the consequences.

It was their way of signaling to the 'elite' in charge of the party how utter dissatisfied and disaffected they were, after almost two decades of Blair, and Brown, and Milliband; how neglected, ignored and taken for granted they felt. that's why Corbyn's message resonated and that's why he got elected.

Of course. the aforementioned 'elite' didn't get the hint. If there is one thing they are very bloody good at it is thinking they know best. They viewed the election of Corbyn as a foolish error on the part of the membership, who had to told off, sent to the naughty step and made to elect a proper leader this time; hence the Chicken Coup - only the 'elite' (significantly misnamed; there isn't much elite about them in terms of intelligence or wisdom) were so clueless and craven they put up Angela Eagle and the Owen 'Lacklustre' Smith might be viable alternatives, with fairly predicable results. Corbyn won, and the elite decided that, obviously, the membership were being recalcitrant and really, really needed to be taught a lesson.

At no point, it seems, did anyone bother to ask, "Why DID they vote for Jeremy?" Or if they did, the answers were probably just a load of patronising generalisations and sneers.

Remember what happened with Corbyn as leader (before Friday the 13th, I mean): membership soared to almost half a million and there were genuine signs of a mass movement developing.  People becoming re-engaged and excited about being Labour again.  2017 happened, just as much as 2019 did, and can not be ignored.  The message resonated and the messenger was not deemed too abhorrent then.

Only, of course, the 'elite' knew better.  Corbyn and his rag tag bunch had stepped out of line and had to be put back in their place - for the good of the party, you understand, and especially for th good of the membership, who had let the power Ed Milliband had unwisely gifted them go to their heads and used it unwisely.

They identified real but not Earthshaking issues - the presence of some foolish people in the party who don't think before they tweet, plus some genuine anti-Semites - and started to make Quite A Fuss about it. And they never missed a chance to confide just how awful things were to their friends in the media.

In the meantime, of course, Brexit was rumbling on. They noticed that Corbyn and the Unions weren't too hot on Remain and the 'elite' - who love skiing in the Alps and holidays in Umbria - felt once more they knew better. The 'elite' always knows best and if they have to keep intervening to correct the unruly plebs, well, noblisse oblige.  After all, THEY haven't gone to Oxford to do PPE so how could they be expected to know what's best for them?

The proles had voted foolishly - AGAIN, you'd almost think they were doing it on purpose - and once more had to be corrected. A botched compromise was devised and Labour was forced to go into an election offering a fudge that might have been morally principled but only seemed to tell people they were being ignored - again.

So, now that Corbyn is on his way out, the impetus will be to make sure that him and his horrid followers are excluded from the party and never even given a whiff of a shot of getting anywhere near power. It will be very hard for anyone running on anything that even resemblance of a Corbynite ticket to get the nominations to stand as leader. There won't be any more 'widening of the debate' because the elite know they will lose that debate. They will try to force a bland slate of safe, Blairy candidates on the membership. One of them will win, and it will be just like the 2010 leadership election all over again.

The lesson of 2019 is not that Corbynism needs to be crushed but that the 'elite' need to look at why Corbynsim ever happened in the first place, and be honest about why something that was actually working pretty well in 2017 was an abject failure two years later. And acknowledge their own failings and responsibility for the stagnation and failures of the last 20 years.

I'm not holding my breath.

Aftermath, Part 2 - Why Did All The Votes Go?

Predictable, there has been a lot of effort being put into saying the disaster of Friday the 13th is down to Corbyn, Corbynism and Corbynistas.

There was a poll published by Opinium the day after the election, asking why people did not vote labour, and why Labour voters who voted for other parties switched.

The survey found the main reasons people did not vote Labour were:
  • The leadership (43%)
  • Brexit (17%)
  • Their economic policies (12%)
They also looked at the reasons given by party vote:
Further polling focused on those who voted Labour in 2017 but not in 2019:
  • The leadership (37%)
  • Brexit (21%)
  • Their economic policies (6%)
On the surface it looks pretty convincing.  Clearly, the Blairites were right.  The issue is and was Corbyn and his leadership team.

But ... but ... but ... but ...  I have some issues with this data.

First of all, 'Leadership' is a very vague category compared to 'Brexit' and 'Economic policy'; a lot comes under than heading so it isn't surprising it is the biggest category.  Does it mean the leadership was too leftwing?  Was it to do with the alleged failure to address anti-Semitism?  The inability to silence the criticism and attacks from within the party?  The disunity?  Because some of these aren't really criticiss of the leadership per se, but of the behaviour of the MPs and others who have been trying to throw Corbyn since he got into the saddle in 2015.

I'm also disappointed with the lack of geographic detail. I'd be very interested in seeing the result broken down by region - what if 'Brexit' was more of an issue in the Northern constituencies?  This was an election where what happened in the north was critical.  Traditional Labour heartlands revolted just two years after they had enthusiastically embraced Corbynism.  In 2015 Labour polled just under 18,000 votes in Blythe Valley; in 2017, that swelled to just under 24,000; but by 2019, the total was down to just under 17,000, and the seat was in Tory hands.  Those are remarkable changes in a couple of years.

The absence of the Brexit Party from the data breakdown by party is unforgivable. The BXP were critical in draining Labour support in a lot of constituencies, allowing the Tories to win on quite modest vote gains.  If we looked at that crucial demographic would we see Brexit significantly more prominent?  That seems to be the trend from the limited data available - where former Labour voters were more concerned about Brexit, and less so about 'leadership.'

I'd like to see more information about the reasons given for defection. Given the skewing we can see in the data we have, where almost a third of Lab / Con defectors identified Brexit 31% of the time as their reason for switching, I think it nothing much can be deduced without a more detailed picture. At the end, someone switching from Labour to Conservative is likely to be on the right wing of the party, so is likely to be opposed to the leadership anyway; we really need to know what went wrong in those northern seats and where the Brexit Party was decisive.

If we zoomed in on the Northern seats, and then in again on the Labour voters who went to BXP, would we see Labour voters switching to BXP because their old party had not embraced the referendum result?  And if we did the same again in other areas, would we see the Labou voters switching to the Lib Dems because Labour was not sufficiently Remain?

Aftermath, Part 1 - Where Did All The Votes Go?

So, that didn't go so well.

Immediately after the election, the Guardian published data showing where Labour's vote had gone:
Labour to Conservative - 4.72%
Conservative to Lib Dems - 1.34%
Labour to Lib Dems - 6.06%
The impact of the Brexit Party (BXP) on Labour has already been noted - in seat after seat, the BXP absorbed Labour votes and allowed the Tories to take the seat on relatively small gains.  In Blyth valley, the Conservative vote went up by about 2,000 - small change.  But the Labour vote dropped by 6,000 - 3,000 stayed at home and 3,000 appears to have transferred to the Brexit Party.  And this allowed the Tories to take the seat.

(It is a shame the figures don't include the BXP.  I imagine the transfer would be small, but critical in a lot of seats.)

But the third figure is also interesting.  Labour lost a lot of votes to the Lib Dems, and as a result neither went anywhere.  In spite of Swinson being ousted in East Dunbartonshire and ending up a couple of seats down on 2017, they actually increased their vote share substantially by absorbing Labour votes.  In 2017 the Lib Dems won a national vote share of 2,371,861, or 7.4% of the vote. In 2017, their vote was 3,696,423, 11.6%. It seems unlikely that the extra illion were people inspired by Swinson's charismatic leadership. It looks like they absorbed a lot of Labour voters.

Perhaps the hidden story here is that Labour lost Leave votes to BXP AND Remain votes to the Lib Dems, with both sides of the argument rejecting Labour's measured, sensible Seocnd Referendum compromise. Be interesting to know - though there is probably no way of telling - how much of this was smart tactical voting, and how much Remainers dumbly rejecting the second referendum.

This time, Labour seems to have been caught between two vote sinks - the Lib Dems taking their votes on one flank, and the BXP giving disaffected Labour voters an option than stopped short of voting Tory. And the result of this mess is that it enabled a Tory government with a massive majority.

Some of it was intentional - Farage's ploy of standing own candidates in Conservative seats was an obvious but effective ploy. And some of it boils down to the continual madness of running two parties competing for the centre left vote. Thatcher's reign in the 80s was enabled by the SDP-Liberal Alliance absorbing 25% of the vote and returning fewer than 5% of the MPs.

It seems we've learned nothing since.

This is not about trying to transfer all the blame onto the Lib dem - another, oft overlooked, reason why Blair's government should be remembered as a failure. They had the opportunity to change things in 1997; but they decided the system was working for them, so they would keep it like it was.

Of course, subsequent incarnations of the Labour Party have failed to embrace electoral reform. Stupid short-termist idiots.

Saturday 14 December 2019

"People's Faces" by Kate Tempest

Heard this on Radio NZ this afternoon. Perfectly captures how I'm feeling just now.

It's always good to find new music, though it would be nice to be hearing something celebratory. Even "Things Can Only Get Better" would be welcome, if it was accompanied by a thumping Labour victory.

Friday 13 December 2019

Election 2019 - The Legendary Liveblog

Legendary in my own mind, I mean.  All times are NZ, which is an hour

10.00am (NZ) There's about an hour to go until the exit poll is released.  At that point, half of the British voting public will devastated, and the other half celebrating wildly.  Unless everyone is simply confused.

Turnout seems to have been exceptionally high around the country, which should favour Labour. But the bookies are saying they think a Tory majority is on the cards; we'll see about that. Excitingly, there are rumours that Boris Johnson may be in trouble.
Serves him right for not voting in his own constituency.

10.00am (NZ)  Owen Jones has been incredible during the campaign, a dynamo of optimism and energy. And he's still going:

10.34 (NZ)  Half an hour to go!

Here's a list of potential Labour gains (not compiled by me - I'm too lazy. I just nicked it from @centrist_phone.)

  • Milton Keynes North
  • Milton Keynes South
  • Chingford and Wood Green
  • Hendon
  • Putney
  • Hastings
  • Reading West
  • South Swindon
  • Norwich North
  • Vale of Glamorgan

What other seats should we be keeping an eye on?

  • Workington - Labour may be in trouble here.
  • Wrexham - Labour may be in trouble here.
  • Grimsby - Tories are claiming they might have nicked this from Labour.

And of course, Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

10.39 (NZ)  Watching t' 'lection on Novara Media, with the awesome Ash Sarkar.

10.53 (NZ)  The editor of the Sun is worried:

10.57 (NZ)  Exit poll imminent.  I am VERY NERVOUS. My rating of Labour's overall performance:
30-32 - Dismal
33-34 - Poor
35- 36 - Adequate
37-38 - Looking good
39-40 - Exceptional
10.00 (NZ)  Tories 368, Labour 191 ... No way.

11.06 (NZ)  Either I will be hailed as a genius tomorrow, or John Curtice will be. But we can't both be.

11.16 (NZ)  The deflation and pain in the Novara live-stream is awful to behold. I want to give them all a hug. And they've got to spend the next two hours talking about this cold vomit exit poll before the results start coming in. I feel for them.

11.43 (NZ)  So I won't be drawing your attention to my earlier prediction that Labour will be the largest party in a hung parliament just yet ...

11.46 (NZ)  Of course Corbyn has to go if the exit poll is validated. The question is ... who replaces him? None of the usual candidates inspire me in the slightest. Though as a left winger in New Zealand, my desires may not be the ones the party needs to consider.

11.55 (NZ)  At least Chukka Umunna might not win a seat. The exit poll is a big ass dark and stormy cloud, but I can discern that much of a silver lining.

12.15 (NZ)  Initial vote share puts Labour on 32% ... 'Dismal' according to my schedule, above. Maybe if there is something after the decimal point it will sneak into the 'Poor.' Tories being given a 'Better than Blair' 46%. Hard to fathom.

12.20 (NZ)  First result was supposed to by Blyth Valley, which had a 7K majority in 2017. Apparently it has been delayed for a recount, which is stunning. I think Labour is going to get thrashed in Leave areas, which indicates the people who insisted that the party had to be more Remainy were wrong.

12.25 (NZ)  Socialism is essentially about feeling empathy and sympathy for your fellow human creatures; I guess I'm getting a taste of how Conservative supporters must have felt in 2017.

12.30 (NZ)  First result in:

Lab Hold - Majority 12278
Swing 3.5% from Lab to Con

Lab 21568
Con 9290
LibDem 2709
BRX 2542
Grn 1365

A swing of 3.5% doesn't seem too bad, under the circumstances.

12.31(NZ)  Oh, wait a minute ... Houghton and Sunderland South in.  Labour hold but vote down by 18%. Staggering.

12.41 (NZ)  Blyth Valley turns blue for the first time in its history. The Brexit Party took over 3000 votes, primarily from Labour, I suspect. Labour's policy was morally right but politically unpalatable, it seems. Farage standing against Labour but not against the Tories probably hurt Labour critically in places like Blyth. It gave the voters somewhere they could waste there vote by voting for Brexit without endorsing the Tories.

12.56 (NZ) 
 It looks like the Lib Dems are going to be eradicated in Scotland (bye, PM Jo!) and may suffer elsewhere.  Perhaps they need to consider - seriously - whether they should continue.  Unlike some, I don't hate the Lib Dems.  I voted for them in 1992, in my very first election.  But I can't see a place for them as long as we have FPTP.  All they've done since the 1980s is enabling Conservative governments, either directly or indirectly.

13.12 (NZ)  Sunderland Central duly reports for Labour, but with its majority cut by 6,000.  The Brexit Party took 5000 votes.  Anyone with a majority of under 7K could be in danger tonight.  Anyone in Labour, I mean.

14.51 (NZ)  Sorry, had to pause the live blog to look for my son's missing glasses.  Which remain undiscovered.  Not that there seems to be much of a purpose in continuing as the exit poll seems to have been proved heinously correct. I always wondered what 1997 felt like from a Tories' point of view. Might have a bit of an idea now. Wither now for Labour? THe narrative that will be driven is that it is all the problems lie with Corbyn. He'll have to go - he's had two shots and gone backwards - but I don't think it is fair or true to blame this disaster on Corbynism. Yeah, he had a history that made it easy for the media to portray him as a monster. But any Labour leader would have been thoroughly monstered; they always are. Even Blair got the treatment. And Corbyn's history didn't seem to be a problem in 2017. Given the loss in Labour's vote share are pretty much matched by the BXP gains and the seats being lost are leave areas, it sees to be the poison of Brexit is still potent.

15.00 (NZ)  I don't think there will be many of these tonight so let's celebrate the Great Victory in Putney.

15.03 (NZ) But at the same time, Andy Burnham's old seat of Leigh goes blue - and again the BXP vote share equals the difference between the Conservative and Labour candidates.

15.26 (NZ)  The knives will be out for Corbyn (who will go), Corbynism and Momentum in a big way.  But here's a think - Jeremy Corbyn is not the leader of the Lib Dems, yet they look likely to have as bad a night as Labour, and it looks likely Jo Swinson is going to lose her seat.

Brexit was a massive factor in this disaster.

15.38 (NZ)  Tim Farron holds his seat to get the Lib Dems on the board!  So at least they can have a leader once the dust settles.

15.53 (NZ)  Dan Jarvis holds on in Barnsley Central, but his majority is shredded. Corbyn and Corbynism was not poison in 2017. The only significant change has been the party's shift towards a more Remain aligned policy. That opened the door for Labour Leavers to ... um ... leave. The BXP got 11,000 votes in Barnsley. It isn't down to them not liking Corbyn or the manifesto. They liked him well enough in 2017 - Labour had a majority of 15,000 then. What is the message they are sending? They voted for the Brexit Party because they were sick of Brexit and (stupidly) wanted it done. Labour compromised and offered an opening which the Conservatives and BXP exploited ruthlessly - "Get Brexit done," repeated endlessly.

16.05 (NZ)  Labour lose in Heywood and Middleton, and again the BXP vote is the difference between a Labour win and a Tory win.

16.15 (NZ)  This chart, produced by Professor Will Jennings, shows the correlation between tendency to support Leave in the referendum and increases in Conservative support.

This was about Brexit.

16.18 (NZ)  The Lib Dems take Richmond Park, rendering Zac Goldsmith unemployed.  That's good.

And it means the Lib Dems can have a proper leadership contest, instead of just having to give Tim Farron his old job back.

17.30 (NZ)  Tories reclaim Kensington, the constituency where the Grenfell Tower fire took place.  They won by 150 votes from Labour, with the Lib Dems in third place, hogging over 9,000 votes.  I think that is a suitable symbolic point to end this dispiriting live blog, with the Lib Dems handing the Tories a victory in the shadow of Grenfell.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Final BMG poll - nothing to see here

BMG research have unleashed their final poll of the 2019 campaign:
Westminster voting intention: 
CON: 41% (-)
LAB: 32% (-)
LDEM: 14% (-)
GRN: 4% (-)
BREX: 3% (-1)

via @BMGResearch , 06 - 11 Dec Chgs. w/ 06 Dec 
That's a bit of a "Dunno why we bothered" sort of poll.

"Phillip, I'm afraid I've been a bit of an ass and forgot to do any polling for the eve of election poll. I was so high on coke it completely slipped my mind!"

"Don't worry Niles. There's an old industry trick for this. Tell Monica to stick up the same figures from last time and change a minor party's result by a tiny amount. We'll get away with it. People only pay attention to polls that show something interesting happening."

Regardless of how they arrived at their conclusions, I think they are wrong.  Not enough younger voters, not expecting enough younger voters to turn out, failure to pick up on impact of the last few days to filtering through - some of the data was collected before Johnson's recent blunders.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Boris Johnson ... Hides ... In a Fridge

I am not making this up.

First few lines of the Dail Mail write up:
Boris Johnson's exasperated media minder swore on live TV today as the PM refused to speak to Good Morning Britain before trotting into a fridge as he started an early milkround in Yorkshire.

Piers Morgan was visibly shocked and Susanna Reid had her head in her hands as Mr Johnson's press secretary Robert Oxley declared 'for f***s sake' and blocked the path of GMB's roving reporter Jonathan Swain.

The Tory leader, who was delivering milk in the marginal seat of Pudsey, West Yorkshire, this morning, has repeatedly refused to appear on the ITV1 show.

Mr Swain confronted Boris as he put milk crates in a van and said: 'Morning Prime Minister will you come on Good Morning Britain? Will you deliver on your promise to speak to Piers and Susanna?'.

A tired-looking Mr Oxley loudly muttered: 'For f***s sake' as his boss ignored the calls and wandered into a large walk-in chiller as Mr Morgan exclaimed: 'He's gone into the fridge'.
I mean, FFS. what is going on? This campaign is getting genuinely surreal. This is how dadaists do politics.

Johnson looks utterly dazed, like he has no idea what he is doing or what is going on. it's like he's being wheeled around the country, being forced to perform for the cameras, but barely holding it together. Certainly not together enough to speak to journalists.

I'm pretty sure a few weeks ago he'd have cheerfully engaged in a bit of buffoonery, fobbed them off with a bit of whiff-waff. But he can't, Just like he couldn't respond adequately when a journalist waved a mobile phone at him.

He's broken, a hollowed out shell.

And look at this clip of Johnson delivering the milk to some 'lucky' voter:

This is a rip off of the Love Actually bit where PM Hugh Grant knocks on doors pretending he's just wishing people Merry Christmas.

Following on from their 'Brexit, Actually' toe-curler.

Their campaign is actually just ripped off from a feckin' rubbish twee rom-com?!

Predictably, the Sun somehow managed to cut the sweary words and the Napoleonic retreat into the freezer from their video version of the story, gushingly entitled "Boris Johnson stuns family as he delivers milk on last day of general election campaign":

What does it feel like to have less journalistic interity than the Mail, I wonder?

Shy Labour Voters?

In previous elections pollsters have bemoaned the 'shy Tory' - the respondent who is so fearful of being judged as a cruel and heartless bastard by an anonymous pollster, or their spouses, workmates and friends, that they lie about their intention of voting Conservative, skewing the poll figures in Labour's favour.  But in the privacy of the polling booth, these scruples vanish and with Satanic glee, legions of voters up and down the country put a monstrous X beside the name of the Conservative candidate, thus winning the election for that party.

Of so the pollsters would have it.  I've never really bought into the idea, myself.  But I am wondering if - given the stubborn refusal of the polls to do what I think they should be doing and narrow, damnit, narrow - if we are seeing the opposite phenomenon.  Or opposite phenomena, as rough beast shambles into view in two forms.

On the one hand, the brazen Brexiteer.  The years since the referendum have embolden and validated some Conservative voters.  People who would once have kept their admiration for Nigel Farage and hankering for blue passports very quiet because it was not considered smart or respectable no longer care a cuss.  They are out and proud, strutting down the high street in their Union Jack suits, brandishing their copies of the Daily Mail and proclaiming anyone different a traitor or - worse - an elitist.

The only shy Tories these days are the One Nation Conservatives, who are feeling a bit excluded from their own parties and toying with the idea of casting a vote for nice Jo Swinson.

On the otherhand, I think the mantle of shyness has been passed to potential Labour voters. Given potential they are being told they are voting for an anti-Semitic, Marxist, sandwich stealing, terrorist loving, Cenotaph dancing, incorrect bowing, national anthem not singing security risk ex-spy vegetarian who wants to nationalise sausages and sell all our nukes to Russia (only this last is not something that has actually been alleged about Corbyn and / or Labour) I would not be surprised if they just muttered "I haven't made up my mind yet" when asked.

Is this a thing or just another straw that I am clutching at?  We'll know soon enough ...

You Gov MRP Poll Out

So, You Gov's MRP poll - the weird one that tries to reflect what will happen at a constituency level and which pretty much nailed the hung parliament in 2017 - is not looking too good for Labour:
None-the-less I am feeling pretty confident the actual gap will be less than polls are showing.

Maybe it is my Scottish second sight, or my equally Scottish refusal to acknowledge the cause is lost, or something.

I think:
a) Labour clearly have the momentum (intentional, et cetera and will still make some progress in the final 24 hours;

b) the polls have always tended to overestimate the Tory support;

c) the polls are underestimating youth vote and turnout;

d) the last couple of days will have cost the Conservatives a lot of potential votes;

e) especially undecideds, who will have looked at Johnson's dithering over JustLookAtTheBloodyPhotoOiGiveMeMyPhoneBackYouThievingDickGate and decided they certainly can't be voting for that.

f) Labour will have a terrific Get Out the Vote campaign.
On the down side, the Tories have the mirage of getting Brexit done, the splitting of the anti-Conservative vote and the slight advantage that a third of the voting population have been conditioned to hate.

And before you say anything about "If only they'd switched leader ..." that goes for every Labour leader. Even Tony Blair got it a bit in 1997 - though perhaps they went easy on him, and it was only 25% of the electorate that got the 1984 style 'Two Minutes Hate' style conditioning.

My earlier prediction of Labour finishing as the largest party feels wildly optimistic, but I think I said that at the time, and I'm going to stick with it because, you know, Scottish, refusal to acknowledge and all that.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

More lies on the Twitter (Dan Hodges edition)

The other big story concerning Leeds Hospital is Boris Johnson's bizzare behaviour at Leeds Hospital, where he was confronted by a journalist and challenged about a four year old boy with suspected pneumonia who was left sleeping on the floor, rather than getting  abed like a sick kid would in a decently funded heath system.

Johnson refused to engage with the journalist and refused to look at a photo of the child and then - bizarrely - tried to steal the journalist's phone to head off further challenges.

On Dan Hodge's Twitter feed (Hodges is a 'commentator' for the Daily Mail) that narrative is challenged:
So, a clear GOTCHA.  Johnson is looking at the image.  The Guardian is full of hysterical FAKE NEWS bullshit.  A picture is worth a thousand words, eh, Dan?

Only, if you read the piece in the Guardian that Hodges sneers at, some of the words indicating Johnson did not look at the image are direct quotes from Boris Johnson:
Johnson refused to look at the photo and, out of camera shot, eventually took the phone from the reporter and put it in his own pocket. 
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, responded by tweeting a video of the exchange with the message: “He just doesn’t care.” 
First asked if he had seen the photographs, Johnson said he had not. The ITV reporter, Joe Pike, then showed the prime minister the photograph on his phone, describing what it portrayed. 
Johnson declined to look at the picture, saying: “I understand. And obviously, we have every possible sympathy for everybody who has a bad experience in the NHS.” 
He went on to discuss investment in the NHS and Brexit. Pike pressed the prime minister: “I’m talking about this boy, prime minister. How do you feel, looking at that photo?” 
Johnson replied: “Of course. And let me tell you … I haven’t had a chance to look at it.” 
Pike asked: “Why don’t you look at it now, prime minister?” Johnson, still not looking at the photo, replied: “I’ll study it later.” 
Pressed again, he said: “If you don’t mind, I’ll give you an interview now. What we are doing is we are taking this country forward, and we are investing in the NHS.”
Sorry, Dan, but if Boris Johnson is saying he hasn't had the chance to look at the image, either he hasn't had a chance to look at it (and thus your photo with its squiggly yellow lines is worthless) or he's a serial liar who was trying to bluster his way out of having to address the issue.

Obviously, Dan Hodges thinks that latter.  And if Dan Hodges wasn't running cheap propaganda for the Conservatives - he also ran with the 'protester punched a SPAD' lie for a short while - he'd be tweeting about how Johnson is a dishonest liar who will bluster and lie to avoid having to address the reality of austerity.


So, for a brief period of history, it was alleged that a protester had punched Matt Hancock's SPAD (not a euphemism; special adviser) when Hancock visited Leeds Hospital.

This was reported by the likes of Robert Peston and Laura Keunssberg, as well as the less credible Guido Fawkes.  It also quickly made it into the Mail, the Sun and the Express.

Video quickly emerged proving it didn't exactly 'go down' as had been claimed - a protester was gesturing, and the SPAD walked into his (unclenched) hand.

Keunssberg and Peston, eventually acknowledged they were spreading false information and apologised:

But note that lines: "2 sources suggested" and "I was told by senior Tories" - who the Hell fed them the misinformation?  And why are they protecting them?

The real story isn't that a protestor didn't punch someone.  The real story is that 'senior Tories' are feeding lies via respected journalists and those journalists are diligently repeating those lies.  And - even when they are caught - the journalists are so cravenly, sycophantically aligned with the 'senior Tories' they will cover up who is trying to feed falsehoods into the election campaign.


 From the Guardian : The  Observer  understands that as well as backing away from its £28bn a year commitment on green investment (while sti...