Silliest of seasons?

Owen Walker charts some of the more frivolous offerings out there in the blogosphere

The silly season is well and truly upon us. Here is a collection of some of the more vapid themes across the UK’s political blogs:

Democracy is an odd thing. Dictators throughout history have warned of giving too much power to the masses and it was only a matter of time before the web – the most democratic platform to date – gave strength to that argument.

This week, Tim Ireland started a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for Gordon Brown to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream. More than 5,000 people have so far signed up.

Ever wanted to see a band of four MPs rocking out to Teenage Kicks with Feargel Sharkey? No? Well the web is full of wondrous things and you can see that footage courtesy of former whip Ian Cawsey’s Myspace page. Dizzy Thinks discovered this and other gems on the Brigg and Goole MP’s page, including apparently secretly-filmed videos of Blair’s last Parliamentary Labour Party meeting and the last meeting of the former whips.

The West Country often gets stick for not being as sexy as rest of the country, but the region’s residents must be pleased that at last political bloggers are addressing the real issues and giving them some publicity. Kevin Davis, a Conservative parliamentary hopeful in Yeovil, has begun his own campaign aimed at increasing the amount of public toilets. As a rallying call, Davis declares: “Wherever you go in the country it appears that the Lib Dems have something against public toilets. In Kingston they closed them and in Yeovil they are refusing to open them.”

Apparently Ming Campbell has more than 2,000 friends. Who’d have thought?
This figure could swell with the announcement by Lib Dem councillor Jonathan Wallace that he will only join Facebook when there are 100 people in the “Get Jonathan Wallace onto Facebook” group – so far there are 56. When he signs up he will join the largest political group on the social networking site, according to reports this week.

Steve Webb MP is using his recess time wisely and has found the Lib Dems are leading the way on Facebook. He concludes: “It is no surprise that it is Lib Dems who have taken social networking the most seriously. Lib Dem philosophy and our way of doing politics sits well with the Facebook ethos of being accessible, removing barriers to communication and reaching out to young people. As the figures show, it’s clearly not an exclusively Lib Dem thing, but it’s good to see our party leading the way.”

However, a closer inspection of the stats reveals Webb’s skewed form of proportional representation – typically Lib Dem – where he has reached his conclusions based on proportion of MPs signed up (Lib – 40%, Lab – 13%, Cons – 12%) rather than actual totals (Lab – 47, Lib – 25, Cons – 24).

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.