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What the papers have to say about April Fool's Day.

April Fool's Day is upon us, and with it a host of fake newspaper stories. If, like me, you've had an early start and are finding it all a little confusing, here is a guide to what not to believe.

To be updated through the morning -- let us know if we've missed any!



Top marks for effort go to the Guardian, which has run a story on a brand new Labour campaign strategy.

In an audacious new election strategy, Labour is set to embrace Gordon Brown's reputation for anger and physical aggression, presenting the Prime Minister as a hard man, unafraid of confrontation, who is willing to take on David Cameron in "a bare-knuckle fistfight for the future of Britain", the Guardian has learned.

The paper reports that strategists are considering engineering a "high-profile incident of violence on the campaign trail", and that another tactic being discussed is "provoking a physical confrontation" at the TV leadership debates.

Brilliant -- and PoliticalBetting was nearly taken in.


Another good 'un from the left-wing journal, which reports that "Tribune is facing a hostile takeover bid" from none other than Alexander Lebedev.

Mr Lebedev, who also owns the London Evening Standard and the Independent, as well as Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has offered to buy 75 per cent of the magazine's shares for a nominal payment of £1.50, 50 per cent more than he paid for the Evening Standard, valuing the magazine at £2.

The story plays it so straight that I was very nearly had. Special mention for the plethora of references to how great Tribune is ("prestigious", "revamped website and marketing strategy", "institution of British journalism"). It almost makes you wonder whether the paper is hinting . . .


Speaking of Lebedev . . . the Independent reports that a second Hadron Collider will be built on the Circle Line.

Health and safety advisers to London Underground are understood to be concerned about the proposal, and have raised the prospect of a mini black hole being created at Westminster when the two proton beams collide to re-create the conditions of the Big Bang.

Inventive? Yes. Plausible? Hell no.


The Telegraph reports that specially trained ferrets are helping to bring broadband to rural "dead-zone" areas.

Jon James, director of broadband for Virgin Media, said: "For hundreds of years, ferrets have helped humans in various jobs. Our decision to use them is due to their strong nesting instinct, their long, lean build and inquisitive nature, and for their ability to get down holes. We initially kept the trial low-key as we wanted to assess how well the ferrets fitted into our operations before revealing this enterprising scheme."

It almost sounds plausible when the story gives examples of ferrets being used to lay cables in the past, but one look at the picture of a ferret in a minature reflective jacket, and all doubt is dispelled.

Is this a joke?

We were fairly sure that this story from the Sun was an April Fool's Day stunt:

A flying fish gets its own back on an angler by leaping from the water -- and slapping her in the face.

Jodi Barnes was left with a sore cheek when she and a bunch of pals went fishing with BOWS AND ARROWS.

Fishing? With a bow and arrows? Would they not even try to make their report sound convincing?

But lo and behold, the Daily Mail runs the same story: "Revenge of the carp: Fish hunted by woman armed with bow and arrow leaps out of the water to smack her in the face".

Commenters on both stories have been hasty to point out that they aren't taken in, berating the shoddy Photoshopping. But a co-ordinated sting -- really? Seems unlikely. Perhaps we should all watch out for vengeful flying fish.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Commons Confidential: Fearing the Wigan warrior

An electoral clash, select committee elections as speed dating, and Ed Miliband’s political convalescence.

Members of Labour’s disconsolate majority, sitting in tight knots in the tearoom as the MP with the best maths skills calculates who will survive and who will die, based on the latest bad poll, observe that Jeremy Corbyn has never been so loyal to the party leadership. The past 13 months, one told me, have been the Islington rebel’s longest spell without voting against Labour. The MP was contradicted by a colleague who argued that, in voting against Trident renewal, Corbyn had defied party policy. There is Labour chatter that an early general election would be a mercy killing if it put the party out of its misery and removed Corbyn next year. In 2020, it is judged, defeat will be inevitable.

The next London mayoral contest is scheduled for the same date as a 2020 election: 7 May. Sadiq Khan’s people whisper that when they mentioned the clash to ministers, they were assured it won’t happen. They are uncertain whether this indicates that the mayoral contest will be moved, or that there will be an early general election. Intriguing.

An unguarded retort from the peer Jim O’Neill seems to confirm that a dispute over the so-called Northern Powerhouse triggered his walkout from the Treasury last month. O’Neill, a fanboy of George Osborne and a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, gave no reason when he quit Theresa May’s government and resigned the Tory whip in the Lords. He joined the dots publicly when the Resolution Foundation’s director, Torsten Bell, queried the northern project. “Are you related to the PM?” shot back the Mancunian O’Neill. It’s the way he tells ’em.

Talk has quietened in Westminster Labour ranks of a formal challenge to Corbyn since this year’s attempt backfired, but the Tories fear Lisa Nandy, should the leader fall under a solar-powered ecotruck selling recycled organic knitwear.

The Wigan warrior is enjoying favourable reviews for her forensic examination of the troubled inquiry into historic child sex abuse. After Nandy put May on the spot, the Tory three-piece suit Alec Shelbrooke was overheard muttering: “I hope she never runs for leader.” Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, the Thelma and Louise of Tory opposition to Mayhem, were observed nodding in agreement.

Select committee elections are like speed dating. “Who are you?” inquired Labour’s Kevan Jones (Granite Central)of a stranger seeking his vote. She explained that she was Victoria Borwick, the Tory MP for Kensington, but that didn’t help. “This is the first time you’ve spoken to me,” Jones continued, “so the answer’s no.” The aloof Borwick lost, by the way.

Ed Miliband is joining Labour’s relaunched Tribune Group of MPs to continue his political convalescence. Next stop: the shadow cabinet?

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 27 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage