James O’Brien’s Testing Cost Confusion

James O’Brien – author of “How to Be Right” and “How Not to Be Wrong” – made it seven minutes into his LBC show this morning before he made a classic error. During one of his usual self-satisfied monologues against the government he said the £2 billion per month* (he actually said week) cost of free Covid tests would be easier to swallow had the government not wasted £37 billion on test and trace:

“Having £2 billion pounds-worth of testing unfolding every single week is significant. Of course all of these are offset by the knowledge that they wasted so much money… £37 billion on the test and trace which never felt like it had landed properly” 

That’s the same money, James…

*That’s not the exact figure either.

mdi-timer 21 February 2022 @ 14:26 21 Feb 2022 @ 14:26 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Melanie Phillips’s Tattoo Hate Backfires

On Monday, Melanie Phillips penned a typically controversial op-ed for The Times entitled “Seeing tattoos makes me feel physically sick”:

“My own reaction to tattoos is visceral. They make me feel physically sick. It’s not so much disapproval as a profound revulsion. Whatever form they take — cute animals, flowery words, abstract swirls of pattern — they are far from being decorative or artistic.”

Unfortunately for Melanie, the piece has backfired: Instagram user ‘Jamie Boy King’ immediately tattooed Melanie’s byline photo onto his own ankle. He asks users to share it “so that Melanie sees it and finds out how much we love her”.

With pleasure…

mdi-timer 16 February 2022 @ 16:30 16 Feb 2022 @ 16:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Punditry’s Chesham Profundity: Jim Pickard Eats His Hat

Chesham & Amersham arguably came as a bigger by-election shock than Hartlepool. Hartlepool – as may well be the same in Batley & Spen – was arguably a continuation of the same red wall crumbling seen in 2019, minus the Reform Party’s vote-splitting. In Amersham, the LibDems gained just short of a whopping 7,000 votes, a swing that seems like a more traditional mid-term protest vote encouraged by local issues such as HS2. Albeit an HS2 protest vote in favour of a party led by a leader who backed the project wholeheartedly in parliamentary vote after vote…

Given the shock, some in the media have been caught off guard. Jim Pickard is reeling this morning after previously tweeting he would eat his hat if the LibDems took the seat. Given the weather, Jim’ll be happy he didn’t copy Dan Hodge’s previous wager of streaking down Whitehall…

The Speccie has also been left embarrassed – as LibDem president Mark Pack has been gloating about all morning. On Monday Nick Tyrone opined:

“The Chesham and Amersham by-election is on Thursday. Thank God it’s almost here — hopefully then we can stop hearing any rubbish about how the Lib Dems are set to tear down the Conservatives’ ‘blue wall’ in the home counties. As the campaign has demonstrated, the Lib Dems are miles away from being able to cause such an upset.”

“Instead, the Lib Dems will lose on Thursday, most likely fairly badly, and they will have no one to blame but themselves. If they want to get back to being the by-election masters of old, they will have to do a lot better than this.”

Tyrone has been oddly quiet this morning…

Mark Pack’s gloating doesn’t stop there. He also points out The Guardian wrote a piece during the early coverage, in which a hack visited the constituency for vox pops and wrote a story that failed to mention the LibDems entirely.  Dominic Cummings has weighed in on the “pundit babble”, citing Jim Pickard’s prediction, and recommending those wanting “to improve your understanding of politics” should “stop reading these pundit babblers.” Jim retorts at least he didn’t “go back and edit it, unlike your blog predictions”. Meow…

mdi-timer 18 June 2021 @ 09:58 18 Jun 2021 @ 09:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Profundity of the Punditry: Oscillating Owen Edition

Every now and then, failed PhD student and amateur psephologist Owen Jones opens his laptop and attempts to explain to his Guardian readership what the Labour Party is doing wrong. Given that the party’s been polling in the gutter for quite a few years now, Owen has had plenty of time to figure out the problem and what should be done about it. Guido’s had a browse through the Jones archives, however, and it looks like he’s still having trouble making up his mind.

In 2019, Owen declared that for Labour to win, their manifesto had to “put rocket boosters under its efforts to convince the under-40s to trudge out of their homes in mid-December to polling stations.” According to Owen, Labour had to “turbocharge its offer to young people,” because “Britain’s fate depend[ed] on it”.

Two years and one historic election loss later, and Owen has decided that that was complete garbage. In his latest Guardian disquisition, he writes:

One of [the 2019 manifesto’s] main failings was that while it had eye-catching policies that excited many of the young, it failed to paint in primary colours its offer for older voters.” 

Go back further and a younger Owen was predicting the imminent demise of the Tories because working-class Toryism is dying and it’s taking the party with it“:

“Pollsters divide society into “middle-class” ABC1s and “working-class” C2DEs. It’s a crude and inaccurate measure, but it does give us a good indication of the state of play. According to YouGov, the Tories are on just 26% among the C2DEs: Labour, meanwhile, has almost exactly twice as much support. The Tories have almost as little backing from people in the North as they do in Scotland. Toryism faces an existential crisis, because it can no longer muster enough support from working-class people. …

The Tories are in a mess, and they will have to defy history to get out of it.”

Well the Tories defied Owen’s version of history and have, since he wrote those words, won three elections and an 80 seat majority built on the votes of those very same working class C2DEs. Pundits sympathetic to Labour now talk of an existential crisis for the now narrowly urban, middle class Labour Party. Owen’s solution, as always, is probably just ‘more socialism’.

mdi-timer 10 June 2021 @ 11:45 10 Jun 2021 @ 11:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Profundity of the Punditry: Boris Will Quit Edition

Having spent most of 2020 insisting Boris would tap out at some point within the next year, either after the Brexit deal or after the pandemic, depending on who you read, it looks like half of the commentariat has made an about turn after realising how popular the Prime Minister still is in the wake of the local elections. Don’t expect to see as many commentators forecasting Boris’s imminent political demise from now on…

In academia the political scientists have been confounded. Writing on the LSE’s Policy and Politics blog, Robin Pettitt, who tells us “I am an expert in the internal life of political parties”, confidently predicted that the demise of Boris would be triggered this week and his replacement as Tory leader would be in place by the autumn party conference. This may need revising… 

mdi-timer 10 May 2021 @ 15:47 10 May 2021 @ 15:47 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Will Woke Pundits Get ‘Joke’?

Amazing isn’t it, that pictures that have been lying around on newspaper picture desks for a week are suddenly on the front pages today. Most of the coverage is under newsdesk bylines rather than sports writers. The English Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison said last night: ‘We have spoken with both Clare and Ben – as well as others in attendance – who have all clarified the innocent context behind the still photographs taken at last week’s PCA Awards. Whilst it is not the case here, we recognise that for the millions who are impacted by domestic violence, this is a very real and serious issue.’ So the collective line from the sports world is “it was a joke” and that is where sports hacks are going to leave it. Let’s see what the likes of Marina Hyde, Camilla Long, Sarah Vine, Gaby Hinsliff, Camilla Cavendish, Caitlin Moran, Jane Moore and, err Charlotte Edwardes have to say about the pictures in their newspaper columns…

mdi-timer 9 October 2019 @ 12:41 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:41 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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