Yesterday evening saw the first leaders’ debate of the General Election campaign, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn debating alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson before the moderating hand of ITV’s Julie Etchingham. It was a campaign that Bozo The Clown found to have developed not necessarily to his advantage. And his own press team knew in advance that they would have to deflect from his shortcomings.
Have we loused up again, lads?
So it was that a Dead Cat™ was deployed as the debate began: the CCHQPress Twitter feed rebranded itself FactCheck UK. The “from CCHQ” was so small as to be beyond discreet. This would have been the responsibility of party chairman James Cleverly, although whether he knew about it in advance was not told.
The adverse comment arrived, with the Tweeter known as MatesJacob exclaiming “Just what the fuck is this nonsense? The Tory party press office is pretending to be a fact-checking service for the evening”. Matthew Thompson of LBC added “This is extraordinary. The Conservative Party press Twitter account has renamed itself ‘factcheckUK’ as if to give the impression it is a genuine fact checking account. Unbelievable”.
And while some out there on the right may have thought this was a jolly cool wheeze, the real fact checkers did not, with Full Fact responding “It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as [Full Fact], [Fact Check] or [Fact Check NI]”. Then came the inevitable question.
This was posed by the Sun Apologies Twitter account. “Hi [Twitter Support]. Will you be removing the verified status of [CCHQ Press] for posing as an independent fact checking site?” Twitter has taken a dim view. But CCHQ Press keeps its blue tick. For now.
Sadly, the dead cat was of little use: nothing the Tories were able to deploy could deflect from Bozo’s inability to wipe the floor with Jezza. Worse, the Mirror’s Twitter feed told “Bookmaker Coral cuts the odds on Tories gaining majority after debate”. And while YouGov claimed Bozo had shaded it 51% to 49%, the detail made grim reading.
As Sam Coates of Sky News showed, while Bozo led on being “Prime Ministerial” and “Likeable”, Corbyn scored better in the “Trustworthy” category, and positively floored Johnson on being “In touch with ordinary people” by more than 2 to 1. Then came the realisation that the 51-49 Bozo win had excluded the “Don’t Knows”.
What might that have meant? Peter Kellner had the news, and it was not good news for the Tories. “Full details of [YouGov] poll on [ITV Debate] now up. Among voters who have yet to decide finally how to vote, Corbyn seen as winner by 54%, Johnson 38%, don't know 8%. Mainly firming up wavering Lab supporters, but still significant”.
And those voters may not have been impressed by the likes of Dominic Raab going on BBC Breakfast and declaring that he “doesn’t give a toss” about the phoney fact checking dead cat. When the tie-breaker comes, The Blue Team don’t care.
The Tories suffered a serious setback last night. And it was entirely self-inflicted.
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