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On Biscuitgate, barmy Tory policy, and BNP v Generals

Posted on 21 October 2009 | 10:10am

I really hope this is my last word on Biscuitgate. But with yet another Times leader on the subject today (admittedly in the context of their criticism of GB for slow congratulations of gymnast Beth Tweddle for her gold medal) I thought you might be interested in this fact. The Prime Minister was not actually asked the biscuit question when he did a webchat with Mumsnet. So it is something of a triumph for media spin over fact that his non-answer became such an issue. 

I understand that while questions were being posted online – several hundred of them – Mumsnet intermediaries were sifting them in batches and then putting a selection of questions to the PM. He answered 28 of the total, but was unaware until afterwards of the ‘what’s your favourite biscuit?’ question.

It is pretty remarkable that  this has since generated more column inches than the Tories’ policy on Europe, but then I have been saying for some time that Labour leaders are more spinned against than spinning.

As for the Tories and Europe, finally William Hague may face some serious questioning over his party’s desperate policy, when he meets the American foreign policy establishment in Washington today.

The Obama administration is known to be concerned that a Conservative government would be weakened in Europe as a result of the party’s  alliance with far-right parties at the expense of relations with major powers like France and Germany.

The concerns show that while the ‘special relationship’ may be more important to Britain than to the US as the world’s only superpower, the Americans do still look to Britain for its influence within a European Union.

It would also be good to see America’s famed Jewish lobby get stuck into the Tories for their links to parties with anti-semitic tendencies and neo-Nazi links, rather than saving all their energies for anyone who dares to criticise Israel.

And finally, talking of racism, and neo-Nazi links, Nick Griffin’s condemnation of the General, who dared to criticise his attempts to link the BNP to patriotism and the UK military, as being on a par with Nazi war criminals, suggests he is prone to saying stupid things when under pressure. Regardless of whether the whole thing is a BBC stunt, tomorrow’s Question Time matters more than most, and if Griffin comes out with much of that kind of nonsense, it will hopefully do him a lot more harm than good.

  • Charlie Perks

    I quite liked it when the Times moved their leaders to page 2, and there are occasionally some good ones, but they have been pursuing a much more trivialising agenda with regards to the Prime Minister. I note it has been exacerbated since the switch of the Sun, which makes me think the whole of Murdoch’s papers have been shifted in favour of Cameron and against Brown. The biscuit story is trivial on one level, but in light of your blogs of recent days on the subject, perhaps I should have taken it more seriously as a further rather alarming sign of what news has become

  • Harry Harrison

    The hype surrounding Question Time is worrying. For the broadcasters, and the rest of the media covering it, it is just another story. But my experience of hype is that things tend rarely to be as good, or as bad, as expectations, so what we will be left with is a further step in the reasonabilisation of a viciously unreasonable and unpleasant individual and set of views. I cannot say I am that impressed by the choice of the rest of the panel either.

  • Pat Hall

    You should have been pressing your set key on media double standards on the Tories and Europe. My Guardian front page tells me that the US are worried about Tory policy on Europe. Yet I heard nothing of this in the headlines this morning. If it had been the Times, Telegraph or Mail saying the US are worried about Labour policy on anything at all, it would have been a broadcast story. I hooe you are right, that the Americans put Mr Hague under a little pressure

  • olli issakainen

    Nick Griffin was on Sunday Live last week, and he sounded like a man with a lot of explaining to do. But my experience is that TV exposure can be a big boost to a small party.

  • morningpaper

    Hello lovely Alastair; I hate to be pedantic but your facts are incorrect. While the question may not have been posed in advance of the online chat, it was posed (and evaded) many times during the online chat. That is the nature of the live chat thingy really…

    So, to be clear: GordonBrown logged on at 12:46. Biscuit question was first posed by GentleOtter at 12:48; then again by BigHairyLeggedSpider at 12:59; ILoveTIFFANY at 13:01; TheConstantIroner at 13:04; Restrainedrabbit at 13:08; midnightexpress wondered whether perceived biscuit endorsement might be unconstitutional at 13:12; mentioned again by MadameDefarge at 13:17; ILoveTIFFANY at 13:18; sagan at 13:20; PeachesMcLean at 13:44; MadameDefarge at 13:46; ILoveTIFFANY at 13:51; bumbling at 13:53; MichKit at 13:54; theyoungvisiter at 13:57 and wheredidiputmyfone at 13:58. GordonBrown signed off at 13:58 despite the fact that by 13:58:34 VulpusinaWilfsuit pointed out that a journalist was already tweeting the urgency of the biscuit issue.

    Hope that clarifies the situation. Keep up the good work. P.S. Jaffa Cakes are a bit girlie, eh?

  • obangobang

    “…..I have been saying for some time that Labour leaders are more spinned against than spinning.”

    Ha, ha, ha. I nearly lost my own biscuit at that one.

    As for spinning the Grauniad line on US/Tory relations, like your soulmate on the NS, James McIntyre, maybe you just need to get used to the idea that the US want to hit the ground running from next May by establishing a relationship with the next UK government now.

    I realise it will be difficult, but you and your chums are just going to have to get used to being utterly irrelevant in the very near future.

  • Alan Quinn

    The worrying thing is that the repositioning of the tories in Europe shows Cameron up for what he is, a naive political lightweight. Yet he seems to set the agenda, has only one concrete policy (to abolish inheritence tax) and is constantly wrong on all the big judgements.

    You can’t blame it all on the anti Labour press, the fact is that we are incompetent at taking the fight to the tories and never get our message across.

  • Tina Harris

    OMG Alistair you are keeping bloody bicuitgate ALIVE AND KICKING He didn’t answer a straightforward wanking biscuit preference question as my fellow mumsnetter Morning Paper has so astutely pointed out below. You beleive all the fucking crap No10’s “Press Polizei” spiel out because you were once one of them.! Just coz Mandy made a come back you think you can do the same, crawling to old “dour son of the Manse” is sure to get you everywhere. Keep you enemies close as the old saying goes

  • Tina Harris

    Oh and Alan Quinn, yes YOU DOWN BELOW just wanted to say Yada Yada Yada, Blah Blah Blah. YAWN ZZZZzzzzzz to your boring old sycophantic posts to AC. (Or is AQ really AC?)

  • Bill Hart

    When you have a brain the size of a Planet idiot questions may well cause a black hole in the mind though making no claim to HABTSOAP i could not have answered the question either thou might haght of.

  • morningpaper

    Dear lovely Alastair,

    I have since discovered that you were right. GB didn’t read the questions at all and wasn’t informed of them. I take it back.

    P.S. Comment about girlie Jaffa Cake choice still stands.