I was so sick of the sound of Lishi Trunak trotting out the same tired lines, lame stories, superficial analyses and false promises that I opted for a longer than usual Sunday morning swim, and gave Laura Kuenssberg’s new BBC show a miss.
As I swam under cloudy blue skies, I spared a thought for those poor
journalists who have had to cover every interview (in Liz Truss’s case not so many) and every hustings debate. So robotic did the Trunak performances become, one of the journalists told me, that he and a colleague would stand at the back of the room, and mutter along with the candidates as the same lines, stories, analyses and false promises were rolled out once more, word for word as they had been so many times before. “Imagine going to the worst ever concert by the worst ever band, and singing along to the worst ever songs. That has been my life for the last few weeks.”
So we should thank comedian Joe Lycett, whose contribution to Kuenssberg’s show was making waves by the time I was showered and dressed, for at least enlivening the final hours of the democratic charade which has delivered up the fourth Tory prime minister in twelve years of waste and decline.
TS Eliot gave me my favourite ever definition of wit, (he said, hoping for an entry into Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner,) namely “the alliance of levity and seriousness by which the seriousness is intensified.”
So it was funny, to see Truss reacting to Lycett’s cheering of her bang average performance under fairly gentle questioning in the same way as she had reacted to the applause that has greeted her Thatcher tribute act among the Tory Party members, by imagining it to be sincere. It was funny to see Laura Kuenssberg so unsure as to how to react to Lycett saying almost word for word the kind of thing that Tory MPs and client journalists will be saying about Truss as they seek to portray her as being the best possible candidate for a job most members of the public appear to believe is beyond her.
It was funny to look at Lycett’s social media – he has 1.1million Twitter followers, but follows only one account, namely Babestation Models – and see that he had signalled his intentions in advance, tweeting after Laura Kuenssberg announced the line-up for her show that he was “really excited to be on this new version of Would I Lie To You?”
But funniest of all was to see the right-wing media pile in against Lycett, whose couple of minutes of po-faced piss-taking came in for more scrutiny than most of Trunak’s singalong lines, stories, analyses and false promises have over recent weeks. Baron Dacre of Mailshite led the charge of course, deeming Lycett’s “mockery” of Truss to be the single most important thing for his rag to report on its front page on Monday morning.
Among the serious points Lycett was making, in his own sweet TS Eliot way: just as Boris Johnson was a deeply abnormal prime minister kept afloat by a media which treated his abnormalities as perfectly normal, so the same thing was now happening with Truss; also, that there is such a thing as a media “narrative” and to get access to the conventional media landscape, you have to play along with it, conform to it, or be silenced.
In choosing Truss to succeed Johnson, it is pretty clear the Tory Party has not learned much from the reasons he turned out to be such a spectacular failure; the signs are the media hasn’t learned that much either. Same old, same old, here we go again. And what odds now on Baron Dacre and Baroness Dorries getting together for Operation SCAB, a new Satire and Comedy Abolition Bill … after all, if Putin can get through laws making it a crime to criticise a “special military operation”, surely a government as right wing as the one we now have ought to be able to stop anyone pointing out the truth that two successive prime ministers, and our broader political and media cultures, are now viewed worldwide as something of a joke.