Jack Lesgrin’s week: Reflections on the elections and social meania

By Jack Lesgrin

Three election reflections 

One: a full list of candidates is available in…this interview

In the interests of all underdogs and Count Binface, electoral law should be changed so that the media, when talking to one candidate, are required to list the names and parties of all candidates. Currently, they get out of it with the “a full list of candidates is available on our website” disclaimer. Mr A Rose, of the Labour Party and Mr T Ree, of the Conservatives lap up their prime time local or national media exposure, but what about the minnow parties, the independents, the Monster Raving Loonies and Binfaces? In an election, all candidates should be equal.

Two: pop the balloon to expose an inverse emperor’s new clothes

Last week a huge Prime Ministerial head filled purely with hot air floated above Hartlepool. Stage-managed photos followed on the front pages the following day of the corporeal Prime Ministerial head with the balloon above. Can you imagine if any other PM had tried such a stunt? It’s doubtful that the media would have run the photos and they would certainly have penned scathing stories about narcissistic personality disorder. This new abnormal is an inverse emperor’s new clothes. Rather than the observing masses staying schtum for fear of the opprobrium of calling out the leader’s nakedness, past leaders must now be realising that all those ‘good chap’ rules, PR rules, or indeed rules rules, didn’t actually exist. Just think what they could have got away with, or more importantly, achieved, had they ignored the rules.

Three: out of the mouths of vox pops

The best moment of post-election analysis was on the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme when Lord Mandelson recounted what a Hartlepool voter had told him. “Sort yourselves out. You picked the wrong brother and you ended up with Corbyn, so that’s goodbye to you. When you’ve sorted yourselves out, we’ll look at you again.” It had a certain simplicity and was entirely correct. It reminded me of those moments when the man or woman on the street captures the public’s mood. Remember Brenda from Bristol back in April 2017, whose exasperation on hearing that Theresa May had called an election went viral. “You’re joking? Not another one. Oh for God’s sake, honestly, I can’t stand this. There’s too much politics going on at the moment.” Bearing in mind what came afterwards, she had a point.

Social ‘meania’  

“Social media enables and encourages meanness” is hardly a “man bites dog” headline, but my hunch is that the sheer volume of nastiness perpetrated on social media has caused a degree of acceptance and fatigue among us. We (wrongly) hardly bat an eyelid at nastiness or worse in the digital world that we’d simply not tolerate were it to happen on the street. More insidious is that bullying, mocking or worse behaviour is often presented, tonally, as being nothing more than a witty aside. That’s why there was something unsettling about ‘comedian’ Olaf Falafel’s tweet last Wednesday in which he responded to a photo of President Biden kneeling in the living room of President Carter and his wife, by writing “Gottle of geer”. This phrase has come to represent ventriloquism and the ‘joke’ was that the former First Lady Rosalynn Carter appeared small next to the President, who’s right hand couldn’t be seen behind the chair. This mean-spirited, nasty line mocked their appearance during what was no doubt a special day, seeking to laugh at, not with them. Mr Falafel’s followers seemed to have fully bought into the ‘cloak of comic decency’ granted by the idea that this was just a joke: “Hahahaha” chirped comedian @MattForde. “I’m wondering how any camera angle on earth could produce this hilarious picture” opined @grannyfan, while @michellebenato thanked Falafel for her “first guffaw of the day”. Only one of the replies seemed to question the ‘joke’ (@Voodoo_Roy) with a “mate”. Even the BBC wrote an online article headlined ‘Biden Carter: what’s going on in this picture’, noting that the photo had “sparked much mirth and amused comments on social media.”

Social media japery is akin to the crowds that assembled when someone was being picked on in school. Group mentality takes over and people can feel a thrill in joining in with the bullying, especially when there are no consequences because the victim can’t answer back. The cloak of comic decency is worn by others too, and if they also happen to have a ‘National Treasure’ badge to wear, such as Matt Lucas, then the illusion is even more powerful. Matt Lucas, you ask? Yes indeed.

He tweets out a “Good Morning!” many days, in the form of a video of some 1970s or 1980s Saturday night TV performance, or an old advert (I’ve no idea how he does this without breaching copyright). He doesn’t pass comment, but those people replying to his tweets do. They laugh, mock and even scorn, perhaps feeling that they have a licence granted by the cloak of comic decency. When I watch one of Lucas’s “Good Morning!” videos, all I see is a child singing for the first time on TV, or a dance troupe doing their best, or a celeb singing their heart out. Others see ‘humour’, but what I see in their cackling is bullying. Don’t get me started about “Journalist, radio host, TV rent-a-gob” Bev Turner’s awful tweet this time last year from last May – “I think we can assume Nicky Morgan has done herself a fringe trim. Lockdown is the gift that keeps on giving…” To me, social media is the gift that keeps on giving people a licence to be nasty, while thinking they’re just being funny or just passing the time.

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9 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s week: Reflections on the elections and social meania”

  1. Rocinante says:

    “But Boris is a laff innee, my Gran luvs im.”

    Welcome to politainment. It’s like Clem Attlee debating with Neddie Seagoon.

  2. John P Reid says:


    Tell Me this Article is a joke

  3. richard mackinnon says:

    “This new abnormal is an inverse emperor’s new clothes. Rather than the observing masses staying schtum for fear of the opprobrium of calling out the leader’s nakedness, past leaders must now be realising that all those ‘good chap’ rules, PR rules, or indeed rules rules, didn’t actually exist. Just think what they could have got away with, or more importantly, achieved, had they ignored the rules”.

    Mr. Lesgrin,
    I’m not sure what that means. It sounds impressive but if I cant understand what it is you want to say what is the point? Maybe that is the point, maybe you are not sure what it is you to say, maybe all it is you want, is to sound impressive.
    Let me give you another perspective of the Hartlepool by election.
    I followed the campaigns of the major parties and a number of factors stood out.
    1) The Location.
    2) The Demographics.
    3) The Candidates.
    4) The Party Leaders.
    5) The Result.
    You think Johnson’s balloon was a stunt, out of place, not prime ministerial. And, if I have understood you correctly, you are right on the first count, it was a stunt. One I think you will see again. It worked.
    Hartlepool liked Boris Johnson and his balloon. And they liked the Tory candidate, a woman, a local farmer. They identified with her. They did not identify with the Labour candidate for exactly the opposite reasons.
    Johnson is likeable. The posh boy, trying his best act works, especially it seems with northern England. If you cant see this then I am afraid that makes you a bit of a snob.
    I think there are simple aspects of the campaign you prefer to ignore. Johnson made the effort on the day after the count to go back to Hatlepool to thank the voters. It was noticeable that Starmer did his piece to camera in what looked like a legal library. These things matter.
    Labour have a real problem (and for Mandelson to blame Corbyn is desperate straw clutching. Starmer has been leader for 18 months now).
    Labour has lost northern England and I cannot see any way back.
    It is exactly the same scenario as played out in Scotland before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. Scottish Labour voters were Yes voters for independence but the Labour Party’s stance was No. Telling your core supporters that they are wrong is not a smart thing to do. Labour are now an irrelevance in Scotland. The same as in northern England with Brexit.
    Labour has no answers. Starmer has not got any idea of a solution to the disconnect between his party and the country. The Friday “I’ll do whatever it takes….” interview was a car crash. (I think it will be Keir Starmer’s youtube epitaph).
    When you look at the quality of Labour MPs, the lack of any direction, the size of the schism within the PLP, the weird and unfathomable influence trade union leaders still appear to have over a British political party I wonder if we are not witnessing the death throes of The British Labour Party.

  4. john P Reid says:

    In the 70’s there the young liberal marxists in their party Like Peter Hain who didn’t support renewing nuclear weapons They were appalled that David steel propped up The Jim Callaghan government So quit the liberals in 1979,

    then when Callaghan was replaced by Michael foot they joined labour as it had swung to the left by the mid 90’s people who’d backed Tony benn for deputy for idealogical reason’s 15 years earler( not Blair got for career reasons) Had to go so far away from what they once stood for as they were desperate for power I find the comparison Of the Libdems who wanted to decriminalise prostitution legalise all drugs scrap nuclear weapons when the libdems propped up The Tories quit the libdems joined labour backed jeremy corbyn and wanted to turn labour into a similar party After 3 defeats are no where near The stage that Margaret Hodge: Becket Michael cashman Paul Boateng who wanted to win the 90’s that they were to Quote tony banks “Prepared to Eat poo” To get labour elected ,labour is no where near that stage of having to accept it’s fundamentally wrong on everything

    This reminds me of Marge Simpson in the Simpsons kicked her husband. Out of the house for telling personal stuff about her,
    Within hours her husband is destitute and wants to be let back in.
    So he goes and apologised Thinking just saying sorry ,would be good enough.
    To which Marge his wife replies
    “you don’t even know why you’re apologising”
    To which her husband replies “ Yes I do because I’m cold dirty and hungry”.
    Missing the point why he should be apologising as he had broken the trust of his wife telling secrets.
    That’s like labour feeling maybe we should apologise for saying the working class are scum Without twigging that it’s a offensive thing to say ,The working class are scum, and if it did say the working class are scum, and apologise for it
    Without realising that it’s a bad thing As to being the reason it had to apologise
    They don’t twig that it’s was a bad thing and could do it again as they might inadvertadely say the working class are scum again. Thinking it OK
    So when young labour booed Paul Embery months later apologised and thought that’d be enough without twigging that would not be enough to not heckle again in the future and be rude to people In the future not realising how that if was offensive to invite someone in the first place and Why labour should actually listen to the concerns of the working class and realise their contempt is offensive if labour wants The working class vote in the first place

  5. John P Reid says:

    It’s actually astonishing that some of the identity politics people
    IE those brainwashed into thinking they’re victims because they’re black or gay so therefore feel the need to align themselves with those they consider the same group but more of a victim then themselves IE if a black prrson in America got assaulted by a Cop or a Muslim in the Middle East, be they Palestinian or a asylum seeker who’s deported or someone groomed to join ISIS and then not allowed in The UK or arrested
    Or a gay person had to defend trans misogynists who are intimidating lesbsins( some of whom were defending gay men when illegal in the 60’s) to the point the gay men don’t get the sexism these women are getting being called in “Hate groups”

    That they ever thought The majority of labour members were 0n their side or should have a reason to be 0n their sides Starmer ignoring the Culture war ,blue labour being 0n the other side of the culture war

    Or the student liberal left who were divided between lisa Nandy and Starmer( the open labour sort of Alex sobel ho have no sympathy for Palestine
    Yet when Shabama Mahmood MP defended the Muslims heckling their teacher telling their daughters at school if they’re a tomboy then The girls is really a boy,
    The culture war is something that even if they say they’re joining the greens ,The majority of labour.Constituencies don’t accept,

    ( even if constituencies .
    Don’t want to have motions supporting Black Lives Matter calling those who disagree in the party who are just as middle class ‘Fascist” or having motions about self identification
    of The gender recognition act)
    Crime or anti semitism.

  6. John p Reid says:

    I can see the Tories getting so big they split iin half there’s a northern clue Collar working class tory party
    And a Whig, David cameron Libdem style Cornwall party
    Either way labour won’t even be the party of Wales ,just Manchester and inner London
    And struggle to get 10% of the vote

  7. ExLabour says:

    Having been away from this site for a couple of years its good to see you still have some complete buffoon’s writing blog pieces a-la Lesgrin.

    Regarding Boris Johnsons’s ‘stunts’ perhaps he should be pictured going shopping for wallpaper or taking the knee in support of BLM…..oh wait hang on I think someone has already done that. Someone called Sir Keith Strumer apparently.

    @john P Reid…the Tory party are already the party of the working class or had it passed you by ?

  8. John p Reid says:

    Ex labour

    I was saying that the Tories get so big and the fear of having to worry about beating labour isn’t something they need to fear controlling them ,so they can take their foot of the peddle
    Then if they got so big they can afford to argue as it won’t see Labour win
    They could see Scotland and Northern Ireland go
    Then become 2 partied and one those parties would be “why don’t you aspire to be middle class”? David Cameron libdem party

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