"This piece is simply an apology". Photo: YouTube screengrab
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Natalie Bennett, please stop making us all feel sorry for you


Yesterday, this mole jumped on the everybody-laugh-at-Natalie-Bennett's-awkward-interview bandwagon. But today, this mole's whiskers are wilting in sympathy at the 500-word penned apology by the Green leader in the GuardianThe headline: "Life is a learning process and I've much still to learn". 

It begins: "This piece is simply an apology..." (tear).

It’s never easy being a politician in the limelight, and it shouldn’t be. We are asked all sorts of questions, from our taste in breakfast cereal to our thoughts on macroeconomic policy, and we’re always expected to have a well-informed and thought-through opinion.

On Tuesday morning I gave a terrible interview on LBC – let’s not pretend it was anything else. If you cringed listening to the show, than I’m sure you can imagine what I felt like.

We launched one aspect of our housing policy in early February. I was on top of the figures then, but I hadn’t looked at them since.

When asked about the figures, my mind simply went blank.

It’s easy to say that it “happens to everyone” but, on the day of our election launch, I should have made damn sure it didn’t happen to me. Listening back (which I’ve forced myself to do) I’ve found myself shouting at the radio....

It ends: 

Yesterday morning reminded me that life is a learning process and that I have much still to learn. Unlike many other party leaders I haven’t been a politician for all that long. I’m willing to admit that this level of attention is a challenge, but it’s one that I can and will rise to. Never before in my lifetime have I seen such appetite for change in this country, and I have a duty to my party and to our 509 candidates in England and Wales to lead from the front.

I’m not going to pretend I’m not upset about my performance, I am. But I’m also more determined than ever that the Green party’s policies get a fair hearing at this election.

Awww, somebody give her a tree to hug.

I'm a mole, innit.

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Just you wait – soon fake news will come to football

No point putting out a story saying that Chelsea got stuffed 19-1 by Spurs. Who would believe it, even if Donald Trump tweeted it?

So it is all settled: Cristiano Ronaldo will be arriving at Carlisle United at the end of the month, just before deadline day. It all makes sense. He has fallen in love with a Herdwick sheep, just as Beatrix Potter did, and like her, he is putting his money and energy into helping Cumbria, the land of the Herdwick.

He fell out with his lover in Morocco, despite having a private plane to take him straight from every Real Madrid game to their weekly assignation, the moment this particular Herdwick came into his life. His mother will be coming with him, as well as his son, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jr. They want to bring the boy
up communing with nature, able to roam free, walking among the lakes and fells.

Behind the scenes, his agent has bought up CUFC and half of Cumbria on his behalf, including Sellafield, so it is a wise investment. Clearly CUFC will be promoted this year – just look where they are in the table – then zoom-zoom, up they go, back in the top league, at which point his agent hopes they will be offered megabucks by some half-witted Chinese/Russian/Arab moneybags.

Do you believe all that? It is what we now call in the trade fake news, or post-truth – or, to keep it simple, a total lie, or, to be vulgar, complete bollocks. (I made it up, although a pundit on French TV hinted that he thought the bit about Ronaldo’s friend in Morocco might not be too far-fetched. The stuff about Beatrix Potter loving Herdwicks is kosher.)

Fake news is already the number-one topic in 2017. Just think about all those round robins you got with Christmas cards, filled with fake news, such as grandchildren doing brilliantly at school, Dad’s dahlias winning prizes, while we have just bought a gem in Broadstairs for peanuts.

Fake news is everywhere in the world of politics and economics, business and celebrity gossip, because all the people who really care about such topics are sitting all day on Facebook making it up. And if they can’t be arsed to make it up, they pass on rubbish they know is made up.

Fake news has long been with us. Instead of dropping stuff on the internet, they used to drop it from the skies. I have a copy of a leaflet that the German propaganda machine dropped over our brave lads on the front line during the war. It shows what was happening back in Blighty – handsome US soldiers in bed with the wives and girlfriends of our Tommies stuck at the front.

So does it happen in football? At this time of the year, the tabloids and Sky are obsessed by transfer rumours, or rumours of transfer rumours, working themselves into a frenzy of self-perpetuating excitement, until the final minute of deadline day, when the climax comes at last, uh hum – all over the studio, what a mess.

In Reality, which is where I live, just off the North Circular – no, down a bit, move left, got it – there is no such thing as fake news in football. We are immune from fantasy facts. OK, there is gossip about the main players – will they move or will they not, will they be sued/prosecuted/dropped?

Football is concerned with facts. You have to get more goals than the other team, then you win the game. Fact. Because all the Prem games are live on telly, we millions of supplicant fans can see with our eyes who won. No point putting out a story saying that Chelsea got stuffed 19-1 by Spurs. Who would believe it, even if Donald Trump tweeted it?

I suppose the Russkis could hack into the Sky transmissions, making the ball bounce back out of the goal again, or manipulating the replay so goals get scored from impossible angles, or fiddling the electronic scoreboards.

Hmm, now I think about it, all facts can be fiddled, in this electronic age. The Premier League table could be total fiction. Bring back pigeons. You could trust them for the latest news. Oh, one has just arrived. Ronaldo’s romance  with the Herdwick is off! And so am I. Off to Barbados and Bequia
for two weeks.

Hunter Davies’s latest book is “The Biscuit Girls” (Ebury Press, £6.99)

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's revenge