Hardly has the General Election campaign begun, than Tory Party chairman James Cleverly is discovering that there is a good reason nobody else wants the job: his party has once again been caught being deceitful and dishonest, and it is his job to be wheeled out and explain why this behaviour is really A Very Good Thing. Dishonestly.
Hold on, I think I fouled up again
Moving right along from the thought that the Tories are already beyond the control of their own chairman, and we come to yesterday’s appearance on ITV breakfast offering Good Morning Britain of Labour Brexit person Keir Starmer. He was grilled in the usual fashion by co-host Piers Morgan - in other words, Morgan didn’t bother to listen to what Starmer said in response to his questioning - but had an answer, whatever that question.
This wasn’t enough for the goons at CCHQ, who doctored the video to suggest that Morgan’s questioning had left Starmer stumped. Daniel Sandford of the BBC helpfully told what had been done. “The Conservative Party took an interview from [GMB] this morning. They edited it to add on the last shot in which Keir Starmer looks stumped. But that didn't happen. In the original Keir Starmer immediately answered [Piers Morgan’s] question”.
Sandford also included the original for comparison. Paul Bernal, meanwhile, pointed out that is was not just CCHQ spreading the doctored word: “And the individual politicians spread it too”. Hancock’s Half Hearted was at it as well. Piers Morgan then found out, and wanted answers. “You doctored the end of the clip you originally put out, to make it look like [Keir Starmer] had no answer to my question. In fact he answered immediately. You could have had plenty of fun with that interview anyway - why fake it?”
So it was that Cleverly was wheeled out. What was his excuse? “We needed to shorten the video”. Yes, a big boy did it and ran away. Unfortunately, as LBC political editor Theo Usherwood pointed out, Cleverly was not being consistent in his denials.
“James Cleverly has just taken two different positions on doctored [GMB] interview … 0710, GMB: ‘Sir Keir Starmer… was unable to credibly explain Labour’s Brexit position and that’s why we had to shorten the video.’ … 0750, [LBC]: ‘The video... was a satirical, humorous video.’” And then he was caught in another lie.
Over at Sky News, a fuming Kay Burley told viewers “I’ve got an empty chair here”. It should have been occupied by Cleverly, and they didn’t have a tub of lard available. He had refused to go on and discuss not only the doctored video, but also the front page of today’s Pravda Telegraph, in which his boss had compared Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin.
What was the excuse now? “This is the radio interview I was booked in to do, and was doing, when [Sky News] cut to an empty chair” protested Cleverly. Yes, he was now arguing in his spare time. He had been double booked with Julia Hartley Dooda!
But, as Tim Ireland pointed out, “This appearance on a lower profile show with a much more sympathetic host was 30 minutes after the Sky News slot that CCHQ confirmed was booked that James knows he ducked out of”. Gaslighting, much?
Five more weeks of this, he’ll have burned through his entire wardrobe. Not a good look.
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