Steve Bell, Groon, Dec 11 2019

Johnson ends painful campaign with usual bad gags and lies
John Crace, Groon, Dec 11 2019

Boris Johnson at the Olympic Park in London. Photo: Mark Thomas/Rex

Normally, it’s Dominic Raab who keeps turning up at crime scenes. There’s something about unsolved murders he finds irresistible. But for his last rally of the election campaign, Boris Johnson couldn’t stop himself from returning to the Olympic Park in London, the location of the stadium that ran hopelessly over-budget and still costs the country £20m/yr thanks to Boris negotiating a piss-poor deal with West Ham, the venue that he recently insisted had launched a nationwide shagfest. Half of the Copper Box Arena had already been partitioned off, but there were still plenty of empty spaces among the 700 or so Tory activists who had been bussed in for the occasion. These were what was left of the hard core, the true believers, but even they had been caught up in the general sense of fatigue and disenchantment. Minders would occasionally prod them to raise placards saying “Get Brexit Done” and “Vote Conservative” and urge them to shout some support, but there was no sense of this being a triumphant homecoming. The Tories may still get a majority but it will have been given grudgingly. There is no love left for UK politics. Just despair. The torpor was momentarily broken by some flashing lights and the prime minister’s “Love, Actually” campaign video was played on two large screens. Boris knocking on the door and holding up placards to the woman who answers. “I’m sorry I’m late with the child support.” Then out came James Cleverly, who was either incredibly anxious or had had a couple of quick stiffeners. he slurred:


Cleverly got the throat-cut sign and made way for Michael Gove, the man who was so sure of Boris’s talents, he stood against him to be party leader on two occasions. If Gove is the best you’ve got, then you know the talent pool is almost empty. He is a man who has the unique touch of being able to inspire mistrust in everyone he meets. He oozed:

I’d like to thank James for running a wonderful campaign!

He meant that Cleverly had successfully managed to keep the entire cabinet of idiots out of sight and protected Boris from having to answer tricky questions. Gove’s one highlight was a few Pavlovian boos for mentioning Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon. They weren’t going to be allowed to destroy the union. That was the job of the Tories, by creating a border down the Irish Sea. Priti Patel came and went, still unable to locate a single brain cell in her head. If it wasn’t for her vicious stupidity, she would be most remembered as an absence than a presence. She fulfils the Chris Grayling function of making everyone else look marginally more competent. She did promise to be tough on law and order. Especially on phone theft. Boris would be going down for years, then, so not all bad. After another excruciating video in which Dilyn the Downing Street dog again pleaded to be rehoused, Boris finally took centre-stage. He tugged his hair, as sure a sign he’s about to start lying as moving his lips, and looked towards the cameras. His eyes were bloodshot, and he had the bewildered air of a man who couldn’t quite understand that his sense of entitlement had been challenged. He’d always imagined he’d only have to turn up to a few gigs, do his faux man-of-the-people act, and he’d get to be PM for another five years. Now the polls were suggesting he might have more of a fight on his hands. This wasn’t Boris’s natural order.

His speech was just a regurgitation of the same lies and the same bad gags he’s been telling for the past six weeks. And it’s getting progressively harder for him to get any laughs or any love. If he does remain PM it will only be because people want Corbyn even less. The country is in a race to the bottom, and Boris is marginally ahead. So we got the same shit about the Brexit deal that he hadn’t negotiated because he and Theresa May had already rejected it. The same shit about 50,000 nurses. He got applause for mentioning Labour’s anti-Semitism, but he declined to address his own Islamophobia, racism and homophobia. Why bother, when you can always get a snigger for saying Diane Abbott’s name in a funny accent? He even had the cheek to imagine a conversation Corbyn might have with Michel Barnier. This on the very day that Barnier had said Johnson’s chances of agreeing a trade agreement with the EU inside a year were approximately zero. It all ended in something of an anti-climax, much like the election as a whole, as the country breathed a sigh of relief that one of the most depressing campaigns was finally over. On another day we might have taken heart from the Office for National Statistics report that life expectancy is increasing. Now it just felt like a further punishment beating. Only the road to perdition is left.

Fridge-hiding, the final frontier in election WTF-ery
Marina Hyde, Groon, Dec 11 2019

We begin with a fact-check. This general election campaign has officially been going on since around the mid-Cretaceous period. Its final day saw an update to the list of things you shouldn’t keep in the fridge with the likes of honey, potatoes and avocados now joined by the UK PM. All the party leaders embarked on a frantic cross-country campaigning dash on Wednesday, but only one of them … No, I’m sorry. I can’t face it yet. Give it a minute. At dawn, Boris Johnson embarked on a sort of softcore Confessions of a PM tour, which by 10 am had already seen him dress up as a milkman then pop something in someone’s oven. What next? Pool boy? Cable guy? At this rate of innuendo, it seemed reasonable to assume Johnson would simply be barebacking grateful activists live on the lunchtime news. Of course, his version of all this does subvert the classic porn trope. Traditionally, it’s a blue-collar guy coming to the suburban professional’s house while he’s out at work. In this case, it’s an old Etonian milkman knocking on the door of working-class homes. Someone’s certainly going to get screwed, but not in a sexual way. Unfortunately, things would take a wrong turn for Johnson back at the dairy, a sentence I might once have found mildly unusual before I realised that Johnson’s workwear adviser for this election was probably going to get a CBE in the new year honours. This week alone, Johnson has dressed up as a fisherman, a digger driver, a milkman, a builder and a baker. How old is his election strategist? I assume they say basgetti instead of spaghetti, and still wear pull-up nappies at night. Yet despite the relish with which Johnson embraces cosplaying as a working man, he always seems oversized and grotesquely out of place in these scenes, as though a vast unlicensed buttock implant has just been cast in Camberwick Green. Anyway: the fridge. Back at the Modern Milkman HQ, a producer for Good Morning Britain filming live, asked whether the programme could get a chat with the PM. still live on air, a senior Conservative source called Rob Oxley said: “For fuck’s sake!” At which point the PM scuttled into a large fridge.

Time for a historical perspective, perhaps: despite having an underground bedroom as part of the war rooms complex, Boris Johnson’s hero Winston Churchill declined to sleep in it any more than 4 or 5 times in the whole of WW2, including during the blitz when London was under sustained nightly bombardment. Without wishing to go out on a limb, then, it is difficult to imagine Winston Churchill fleeing a lone Pathé news camera to conceal himself inside a refrigerator. Johnson’s move forces an urgent reordering of the top three most embarrassing places British politicians have hidden because they couldn’t handle the consequences of their actions. This now goes: 3. Edinburgh pub, Nigel Farage. 2. Disabled loo, Ken Livingstone 1. Fridge, Boris Johnson. Because the smallness of the man could not be conceded, Tory campaign staff attempted to insist the interview request and the prime minister’s presence in a fridge were correlated but not causal. According to the Guardian’s deadpan report on the matter, Conservative sources, I don’t know which ones, but “for fuck’s sake” let’s have a guess, claimed that Johnson was “categorically not hiding” in the fridge, from which he later emerged carrying a crate of milk bottles. Instead, they fucksaked, his aides were taking a moment to prep the PM for a separate pre-agreed interview. Spellbinding. They honestly would have been better off going with something along these lines:

As you could see from the fact he’d rather steal a phone than empathise with the picture of a sick child, the prime minister is an extremely cold man. We had word from the dairy manager that one of the units was nudging over 4 degrees, and the whole batch would have to be scrapped, so we whisked the PM in there to lower the temperature. Hey presto! Milk lollies for all! The guy’s like Elsa or something! Let’s get Brexit done and sign an ambitious trade deal with Arendelle!

For their part, for this final day, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour wanted to talk about the NHS crisis. Not sure what the costume is for that: perhaps a grim reaper’s cowl, although that would make Corbyn look like he was playing Ben Kenobi in a panto version of Star Wars. Inevitably, though, the Labour leader couldn’t help talking about the fridge. Corbyn informed a rally in Middlesbrough:

I’ve not come here to deliver milk, or to hide in a fridge.

Yet hilariously, and indeed malarially, the Labour party then issued a formal statement featuring the following sentence about Boris Johnson:

He is hiding in fridges to dodge interviews precisely because his fake Brexit slogans can’t stand up to scrutiny.

Oh, man. Who knows whether in retrospect this will look like the moment Labour were finally defeated by Johnson’s WTF-ery? But I can’t help but notice that HM Opposition have just immediately normalised the idea of hiding in fridges as a political act, suggesting that it’s something logical a prime minister might do “precisely because” of something else, as opposed to what it is: a prime minister, of an actual country, hiding in a fridge. Guys, you can’t fit this into the old attack templates. You’re fighting a war against a fridge-hider. There aren’t any established conventions. This is frontier-land. We passed the rules five fucksakes ago. And what of Britain’s next PM, Jo Swinson? Even she was unable to dodge the fridge-iverse. I kept seeing her supporters say versions of:

You know what? She’s turned up to every TV interview and debate! She’s never hidden in a fridge!

So let the record show there’s a new benchmark. Here we are. This, then, is us. On the eve of polling day for the general election of 2019, the fridge is now the black hole of UK politics. None of us can escape its event horizon, so I can’t say “see you on the other side.” In totally scientific terms, there is no other side to see you on.

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