The appearance outside 10 Downing Street yesterday afternoon by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson - complete with official lectern, and with the media previously softened up by the Squirrel! - style diversion of a rescue puppy - only served to heighten expectation of an imminent General Election. Especially because Bozo The Clown decided to talk about one, even though he had no need to do so.
A total Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
After waffling to little purpose, and clearly distracted by chants of “Stop the coup” from protesters outside the Downing Street gates, Bozo told “In the meantime, let’s let our negotiators get on with their work without that sword of Damocles over their necks, and without an election … without an election. I don’t want an election. You don’t want an election”. But he said “without an election” twice. And the press got the message.
The trouble is, they got a slightly wrong message. And the Mail got it loud and clear. “PM warns rebels that if they ‘chop his legs off’ by blocking No Deal today, he’ll call snap poll in just 6 weeks … BORIS NAMES ELECTION DATE … Monday 14th October”.
At least the Murdoch Times kept the 14th October claim out of its headline, but the Guardian did not. “Johnson’s ultimatum: back me or face a snap Brexit election … PM threatens to go to polls on 14 October if Tory rebels support bill seeking to block no deal … Televised address outside No 10 comes ahead of today’s clash in the Commons”.
The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph agreed on the date. “‘I don’t want an election, you don’t want an election’ … but it’s planned for October 14” declared their headline. The Murdoch Sun was on the same page. “Brexit Showdown … PM warns rebels: don’t force UK into an election … BORIS SNAPS … Possible poll date October 14”. Note to Sun subs: you do not capitalise after a colon. Must try harder.
And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, it is not in Bozo’s gift to call a General Election, whatever date he might have in mind. Once again, David Allen Green has the right story: “Please BBC, spend a moment to think critically about what you have been told in those few minutes between being briefed by Number 10 and broadcasting … Please … Else you are just an extension of the Number 10 press office, at one very small remove”. Hello Laura Kuenssberg and the rest of the Beeb’s Westminster team.
Why so? Green spelt it out. “Boris Johnson Cannot Call A General Election … Not His Decision … Requires At Least One Commons Vote … Needs MPs’ Approval … This Is Basic Constitutional Literacy … Political Pundits Especially At The BBC Please Note … Thank You”. And then we come to Two, which is yet more elementary.
October 14 is a Monday. Have a think about that. Monday. On what day of the week do elections take place? Local elections, European Elections, and indeed General Elections? The answer is that they do not take place on a Monday. A General Election could take place on a Monday, but the recent custom across the UK is that elections - and referenda, as in 1975, 2011, 2014 (Scotland only) and 2016 - take place on a THURSDAY.
And that, folks, is why our free and fearless press, and indeed our broadcasters, have all got it wrong. Bozo can’t call a General Election, and it won’t be on October 14.
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