And so it came to pass that the slew of revelations about Cambridge Analytica, the various parts of the Leave campaign, and potential vote fraud reached the inner sanctum of the BBC, where someone decided it would be a good idea to ask the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr to appear on the paper review sofa of The Andy Marr Show (tm). But there had to be a catch, in the shape of rabid Brexiteer Isabel Oakeshott.
Isabel Oakeshott - butter wouldn't melt
We knew what was coming: as soon as Ms Cadwalladr made her pitch, she would be interrupted and shouted down. The only imponderable was the form of the intervention; what was absolutely certain was that Ms Oakeshott had her instructions, and had rehearsed her attack lines. She duly angrily demanded that she be shown “one provable link” between Cambridge Analytica and the Leave campaigns. More than once.
Ms Cadwalladr gave it her best shot, but it was not easy to make headway against the bullying barrage of interventions. Nor did it reflect well on Marr, who failed to keep Ms Oakeshott in check. There followed sneering dismissal of the Observer’s investigations, as Ms Oakeshott damned her fellow paper reviewer with faint praise before accusing her of doing nothing more than “Chasing Unicorns”. But there was a problem.
That problem was twofold: one, Ms Oakeshott is in no position to call out others for suspect journalistic practice, not least after her crude and poorly researched biography of Young Dave (which was a Michael Ashcroft hit job), her failure to make friends and influence people in her time at the Daily Mail, and her misleading Vicky Pryce, which got the story, but landed Ms Pryce with a criminal record and a jail term.
And two, the effect of her clumsy and bullying intervention had the opposite effect to what she might have expected. “You could really see the desperation in Oakeshott's eyes as she attempted to shout down @carolecadwalla on #Marr. The lady doth protest too much” opined one Tweeter. SNP MP Joanna Cherry noted “Poor Isabel Oakeshott desperately trying to shut down @carolecadwalla on #marr over the #CambridgeAnalytica story. She knows her #Leave & #Tory mates are in the soup. Carole’s conclusion that electoral spending law needs looked at 100% right”. And there was more.
“How clever of #Marr to invite arch Brexiter @IsabelOakeshott to drown out @carolecadwalla … #marr Isabel Oakeshott brought on to shout down the intelligent journalist who knows what she is talking about … Oakeshott panicking on #Marr about Cambridge Analytica. And Looking on enviously at a real journalist”.
Lauren Gavaghan, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, summed it up: “Fascinating hearing Oakeshott tell .@carolecadwalla that she is ‘chasing unicorns’ & suggesting ‘conspiracy’ - clearly something in this Cambridge Analytica / Brexit story”. Quite.
Isabel Oakeshott could have just stated, simply but forcefully, that she was not convinced by the Observer’s revelations, and left it at that. Instead, she made so much noise that the inevitable impression was given of desperation, panic and guilt.
Her pals will be congratulating her for seeing off the Rotten Leftie (tm), but Isabel Oakeshott knows she just put the ball in her own net. No surprise there, then.