Some absolute classics from Fleet Street’s finest over the weekend. The usually sagacious John Rentoul’s Saturday column for the Indy declared Amber Rudd to be in a “surprisingly strong position”:
Dan Hodges at 5:13pm yesterday evening was almost onto something with his view that the latest Guardian story “supports Rudd”:
Top prize however goes to Paul Mason, who confidently tweeted at 9.56pm: “It’s become easier to imagine the end of the world than a Tory minister resigning for probably lying.”
News of Rudd’s departure broke just minutes later. Mason immediately fired off another 20 tweets to bury the take and cover his modesty. Peak neoliberalism? Peak punditry…
John Rentoul warns Eurosceptic Cabinet Ministers…
“Everyone knows that this is as much a free vote as Corbyn’s free vote on air strikes in Syria. Hilary Benn’s father, who campaigned to leave the Common Market, was demoted from Industry to Energy five days after the 1975 referendum. Cameron has played his colleagues as slyly as Wilson did his. Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid and Michael Gove will, I suspect, decide in the end that Cameron’s new deal is good enough for them. If Theresa May and Iain Duncan Smith campaign to leave, they know it will probably be the beginning of the end of their ministerial careers.”
The devil makes work for idle hands and Rentoul has become one of the commentariat’s most prolific tweeters.
His amusing series “Questions to which the answer is no” debunks Daily Mail headlines of the “Do Fluffy Easter Bunnies Cause Cancer?” kind. The Herculean constant tweeting in an irrational world (at pixel time he has Twittered 43 tweets in the last 24 hours) has seen him cite over 500 cases of “Questions to which the answer is no”. He has thus set himself up as Twitter’s arbiter of rationalism as well as spending a lot of fruitless time defending Tony Blair from his detractors. A task which is the media equivalent of painting the Forth Bridge.
Rentoul has now moved on from debunking conspiracy theories and loony headlines to critiquing reasonable speculation. Mike Smithson’s PoliticalBetting.com seems to be a constant target. It is reasonable for a writer covering betting on politics to run speculative headlines when discussing high risk betting opportunities, sceptics of Black-Scholes theory believing the improbable is under-priced in risk terms. Mike Smithson asks gambling questions like “Is Jim Murphy for leader worth a punt at 33-1?“, “Should Labour expel Hutton for his public sector pensions study?“ Questions which attract the Twittering ire of Rentoul, as do tweets which within 140 characters fail to cite sources or provide footnotes, Rentoul’s ire is bordering on an obsessive compulsive disorder. Is this a rational use of his time?