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ConDem sense of humour bypass never happened under Labour

Posted on 31 May 2010 | 2:05pm

Of all the insults that appear in response to anything I say or do, my favourites are those essentially saying nobody cares. Because it begs the question – why do they bother reading or listening? Or, at the upper echelons of politics rather than the lower reaches of online life, why try to get me removed from TV debate programmes?

I liked the one recently from the ‘Time for Change’ logoed person saying I was a washed up hasbeen, which is why he never bothers reading anything I write – followed by a line by line rebuttal of what I had written.

Whether here, on twitter or on Facebook, fair to say the majority of commenters are probably of the Labour variety. But even though we are now in Opposition, with the coalition absorbing most of the political space, plenty of Tories like to come along and show off their humourlessness.

Yesterday was a good example as I started something of a trend with a couple of tweets pointing out that Frank Lampard never missed two successive penalties under Labour, and Bangladesh never saw an opening partnership of 140-plus against England under Labour. Statements of fact I think you’ll find.

The Lampard tweet in particular – as I will try to point out to Christine Bleakley on The One Show on BBC1 tonight – prompted a bigger response than anything I have done since the TV debates and Adam Boulton’s live toys-out-of-pram-tantrum.

This led first to my education by fellow twitterers, enabling me to create my first ever hashtag #neverhappenedunderlabour – something which did indeed never happen  under Labour.

This led to a major flurry of tweets through the evening and through the night and a very clear dividing line quickly emerged. The Labour-leaning tweets tended to be quite witty. The ConDem tweets tended to be rather sour and humourless. I’m not saying all the Tory tweets were devoid of humour, but that is where the centre of gravity lay.

It will be a terrible shame if humour is a victim of the coalition. As you may know, volume one of my diaries, Prelude to Power, is published tomorrow, and in it you will find plenty of examples of Tory wit, not least from my old muckers Alan Clark, Nick Soames and David Davis. Likewise I can look at the Lib Dems and think of plenty of moments of wit and wisdom provided by the likes of Ming Campbell, Charlie Kennedy and even dear old Alan Beith who speaks Norwegian and plays the trumpet.

And whilst I accept that losing your first minister overboard so soon after forming a government is no chuckling matter for the ConDems, there is something to be said for always looking on the bright side.

I think the problem for a lot of these Tories and Lib Dems is that they are convincing themselves they are really getting on, whereas deep down they sense this really is a marriage of convenience and unless you are very lucky, they are not the most stable or happiest of relationships. So the humourlessness, and the lashing out at hasbeens like me, is all about failing to confront that. Poor things.

I must confess that my sympathy for David Laws has somewhat diminished since reading the Hansard account of his speech in the Budget debate. Oh, how he was loving being the Tory axe-man of the moment, and trying to rub Alistair Darling’s nose in the post-election dirt. With hindsight, hubris springs to mind.

It has been fun too to watch the Tory media, with the obvious exception of the Telegraph, trying so hard to go along with the Clamberon line that this is a story of a personal tragedy involving a brave, brilliant and honourable man. This sympathetic approach to non-Tory politicians certainly never happened under Labour, as Nick Clegg discovered briefly when the Sun and the Mail were trying, post TV debates and pre Rose Garden wedding to Dave, to do him in.

One final never happened under Labour that I need to clear up. Needless to say I am being inundated with questions about why I am not in the Soccer Aid line up this year. Well, when I say inundated I mean a couple of hacks, and a few family and friends who have enjoyed the hospitality of previous Soccer Aids.

Now the line – obviously – is that given I have a book out this week, the organisers must have realised I had a very busy schedule and therefore felt it highly unlikely that I would be able to take part. I am sure Zinedine Zidane is gutted that he will not be able to join Pele, Maradona, Figo, Zola, Desailly, Schmeichel, Romario, Dunga, Mattheus, Ginola on the list of players who have played with AC. But hey ZZ, life is tough.

I suppose there is the outside possibility that the organisers felt that at 53, I was maybe past my best, and that Hollywood stars Mike Myers, Woody Harrelson and Simon Baker, not to mention singers Ronan Keating and Shane Filan, or boxer Joe Calzaghe, might get more bums on seats than a former spin doctor. All I know is that a Soccer AId without me #neverhappenedunderlabour

Finally, I will give a signed copy of Prelude to Power to the author of the best #neverhappenedunderlabour tweet, FB comment or comment on here. The judge’s decision is final. And le juge, c’est moi

  • Liam Rhodes

    I don’t really think many people will be rushing to get a signed copy of your book, mate.

  • Lewis Baston

    I was not impressed by David Laws’s petty and humourless attitude (taken up by Cameron and others) to Liam Byrne’s jokey farewell note. It’s one of the more civilised traditions of British transitions that ministers can leave private advice for their successors, or make a bit of a joke about it. Jim Callaghan didn’t make political capital out of Reggie Maudling saying ‘Sorry to leave things in this state, old cock. We thought about raising the Bank Rate but in the end decided to leave it to you’ – it was, rightly, a story for the memoirs.

  • Harry Hardy

    You giving your book away – never happened under Labour. Oh sorry, I think you did – your novels. Sorry. Good luck

  • Ben Taylor

    looking forward to reading Prelude to power. i read you diary when it came out and greatly enjoyed it and i understand why you had to leave things out before even if some people willfully decided not to. i shall read each with great interest. two million words in all? all i can say is you must have got up very early in the morning!! my diary says things like “call plummer” or “cat is limping find vet before death of said animal”.
    ps people are ever so brave on these things aren’t they!!!

  • Jerry Kingman

    Chief secretaries having to have named shared by Burnley players or managers – never happened under Labour

  • Colin Porterfield

    Laws deserves no sympathy for whay he did with his expenses and for the relish with which he took to the teask of cutting public services

  • Keith Yardley

    AC, can you please get some of our leadership contenders to show a bit of oomph and wit too??


    Alastair Campbell can write a book without compromising the PM #Neverhappenedunderlabour

  • Mark

    Burnely being a feeder club to preston, rather than the other way around #neverhappenedunderlabour

    (OK, I’ll accept Chaplow indirectly)

  • Jonathan

    @ Liam Er says that man reading his blog ‘mate’

  • Louise

    Bullingdon club bovver boys in charge of the country – neverhappenedunderlabour
    Godfathers r us – neverhappenedunderlabour (Osborne and Cam are godfathers to each others children)
    My father in law the minster of state at the foreign office by G. Osborne -neverhappenedunderlabour

  • Edward

    Au contraire – I would very much like a signed copy – sadly I can’ think of anything very witty at the moment.

  • Pete Horridge

    A hash tag by campbellclaret?

    That certainly never happenedunderlabour

  • James Dixon

    England winning the world cup. Never happened under the Tories.

  • Kerry

    Tories with a sense of humour… #neverhappenedunderlabour and they are no happier now they are in government.

    Bored on a dreary bank holiday… #neverhappenedunderlabour

  • Cosmo Di Ciaccio

    NeverhappenedunderLabour never happened under Labour. At least something of better has happened.

  • Daniel Smith

    David Cameron calling on Jeremy Kyle Show to sort out the Cabinet Members private affairs #neverhappenedunderlabour Cameron is that much of a fool I can really imagine him doing this, behind the closet door of course!

  • Jamie Anderson

    #neverhappenedunderlabour – BP doing their best to destroy the ‘special’ relationship, Burnley staying up, your book on the iPad, 17 millionaires in the Cabinet

    Take your pick but my favourite will be another general election within 18 months of the last one.

  • Amie Michelle Williams

    #neverhappenedunderlabour wondering whether the PM and Deputy PM fight over which side of the bed 2 sleep on…

  • Fergus Boden

    #neverhappenedunderlabour 2 people to the left of party are in the running for Lib Dem deputy leader

  • W. Claret

    I see the Park Ranger has joined Yogi Bear and Boo Boo at the Treasury.

    Never happened under labour.

    Keep a close eye on your pick-a-nic baskets.

    He thinks He’s “Smarter than the average bear!”

  • Steven

    A Government Communications Director who hides

  • Mark Brierley

    The Queen wants a pay rise #neverhappenedunderlabour

  • Graham Jones

    Oh, I think your paying the coalition a disservice, to say they don’t have a sense of humour. Two weeks in power, and a government minister resigning for over-claiming on expenses, isn’t devoid of humour. And just for an encore, his replacement is found out, playing tax-avoidance (legally, of course)on his second home. And there is nothing funnier than watching Vince Cable, trying desperately, to look comfortable with the Tories. I like Vince Cable, but the poor guy has turned into his own punchline. The more we see of him, the more he displays the body-language of Mr Bean himself(the man who lives in awkwardness).
    So there is comedy value in the coalition – just not of the scripted variety.

  • Maureen

    Bank Holiday Monday and all day sunshine in Glasgow! definitely neverhappenedunderlabour

  • LS

    Cameron and Clegg Condemned to Hang ::neverhappenedunderlabour

  • scylla

    I have read extracts from Prelude to Power in the guardian and I found that it gave me an insight into The Labour Party at an very important time in British political history.I have to admit it did seem that you are in a way fed up with Labour using you as a spokesperson but it obviously gets on the conservatives nerves so I can see why they still look to you and the others for advice.I really can’t think of anything witty but if I say that you looked hot in your pictures in the guardian and Fiona is one lucky lady would you send me a free copy.Well I did all the praise above and that #neverhappenedunderlabour

  • Boudicca

    Principled Government …. never happened under Labour.

    Doubt if I’ll win … and I don’t want the book anyway.

  • Shaf Hansraj

    Tories trying to manipulate question time #neverhappenedunderlabour

  • MiKE Brown

    A revolving door at the Treasury and the reclassification of the word “unacceptable” as a new euphemism # neverhappened underlabour

  • Allan H

    My #neverhappenedunderlabour The socceraid match should now be played on the hallowed lawn outside westminister, by two teams one in blue and one in yellow. With no one knowing the LAWS of the game. Result: the 22 players chased the balls with loads of fresh air shots, and with an own goal in the first minute. with their best attackers now in defence, the ref blew for full time in the 55th minute. #neverhappenedunderlabour

  • penfrocharlie

    A rag-tag,clueless,leaderless Opposition… nevereverhappenedunderLabour.

    Suppose that’s blown any chance of a free signed copy….?

  • kathy

    How about England 2 Japan 1 and Japan scored all the goals.
    Never Happened under Labour

  • Rob Smith

    Winning a copy of your own book in a hoopla contest, live on BBC1. Neverhappenedunderlabour (Great throw by the way)

  • Nicky

    What you were saying about Alan Clark being a Tory who was also very funny, reminded me of something he said about his constituency party members when they had the knives out for him over something. He described them as boring, petty and malign. Was there ever a more fitting description of the Tories who drone on in their humourless and dim-witted way on this blog, Twitter and elsewhere on the Interweb?

  • Bar Bar of Oz

    David Laws, Budget debate, Hansard:

    ” … this is the first opportunity that I
    have had to address him (Darling) in his new role as shadow Chancellor and I want to say to him that many people on both sides of the House respect him and respect the work that he sought to do as Chancellor.We appreciate
    that he took over the economic position and the Treasury
    at a difficult time and also had to deal with the difficult circumstances of having a Prime Minister of the type that the last Prime Minister was. I pay tribute to the work that he did.”

    Grace and class.

  • Nicky

    @ Penfrocharlie: a rag-tag, clueless, leaderless Opposition… hmmmm – so the Tories never ruthlessly desposed of their failed leaders, had bitter in-fighting, and generally didn’t have a clue?

  • Michael Read

    I’ve got a cat.

    You woulnd’t have a spare copy of your book?

    He’ll do it justice.

  • Steve Brundish

    A few things that never happened under labour.
    Prezza donning the ermine to save the Planet.
    Ed and Dave booking a family meal at Granita
    Tony Blair inviting someone named Clegg to make a speech in the Rose garden.
    The Lib Dems claim that a referendum on the alternative is more important than the vote for women.
    Losing a minister after 17 days(labours first was 17 months).
    I could go on but this rabble are clueless and no amount of positive media coverage can cover the fact. If a Queen’s speech consisting of 22 hostages to fortune is all they have to show for 13 years in opposition then it really wasn’t quite long enough.

  • Red Dolphin


    June 2010

  • samuelsdale

    David Beckham missing a World Cup =neverhappenedunderlabour

  • Patrick James

    Those ConDems work so hard trying to look happy together it wears them out.

    That’s why they’ve no humour.

  • Baig

    Why don’t you post something on the state terrorism of Israel? Surely you cannot just talk about politics and ignore this massacre on the aid workers?

    Come on, where is the human in you?

    I was expecting to see something on your blog in condemnation of Israel.

  • Pendant

    That is not ‘begging the question’. I expect better from a communications professional.

  • Oliver

    Oil never seaped from the ocean floor under Labour…

  • Alex

    But you have never answered the question why a “pyschologically flawed” guy was allowed to be leader of the Labour Party!? If you are so passionate about Labour why did you let them be taken over by a bunch of losers!

    Even now, why are you not worrying about leadership qualities? “Smartness” is interesting but does not necessarily make for a good “leader”!!

  • penfrocharlie


    Ah,I see some of the fish are rising……!