Election diary: “The ‘Left’ have conquered Twitter”

PUBLISHED: 15:45 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:03 05 June 2017

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott

PA Wire/PA Images

Twitter lefties and a missing Brexit election: Our (Brexiteer) diarist Iain Dale records a new election week

I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘Left’ have conquered Twitter. Last weekend, my LBC Radio colleague Maajid Nawaz conducted a Twitter poll, which asked ‘who do you trust more on national security issues – Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn’? Now I’m not being funny, but in any normal universe that’s one poll you’d expect Theresa May to come out on top in. More than 37,000 people voted in this poll. Sixty-seven per cent of them voted for Jeremy Corbyn. Were they aware of his record of support for the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah? Even if they were, it clearly mattered not a jot to them. We live in a divided country – not just divided by Brexit, but divided between those who think that Corbyn is a kindly, nice man who believes unashamedly in motherhood and apple pie, and the rest of us who think he couldn’t knock the skin of a rice pudding and wouldn’t have a clue how to negotiate a deal for this country in Brussels. Having said of all that, it would be fascinating to watch him have a go, wouldn’t it?

****

The Tories have a problem. Well, more than one, but let’s just stick to this one for a moment. When Theresa May called the election on April 18 it was clearly meant to be a single issue election. It was to be all about Brexit and entirely designed to get Theresa May a bigger majority and mandate. Well that went well, didn’t it? Looking back, it was quite clear it could never turn out like this. A clue came when the Tory party manifesto was published and Brexit took up all of two pages out of the 84 page document. I was talking to a senior Tory the other day and I suggested they needed to get Brexit back on the agenda in the final days. “I agree,” he said, “but the problem is we can’t really say anything new because we have nothing new to say.” All they can do is contrast their position with that of Labour – unless, Jean-Claude Juncker rushes to their aid and says something stupid. You certainly can’t rule it out…

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I love interviewing Diane Abbott almost as much as I find interviewing Boris Johnson incredibly difficult. Diane is too honest for her own good, while Boris just blusters on without a care in the world for the question you originally asked. It’s entertaining stuff usually, but he hardly stops to draw breath which means that before you know it your time is up before you’ve even had a chance to ask a second meaningful question. This week I even had to interrupt him to say: “The way interviews work, Boris, is that I ask a question, you answer it, then I ask another question.” At least Diane understands that, even if at times she doesn’t quite comprehend that if you’re on a sticky wicket it’s probably best to say no to an interview. I don’t complain, but she’s done three car crash interviews in this campaign – with Nick Ferrari, me and then Andrew Marr. You’d think Labour Party press officers would have ‘a three crash interviews and you’re out’ policy. Trouble is, she ignores them and producers know that if they ring direct she’ll happily say yes. Which is why we love her.

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My LBC colleague Shelagh Fogarty and I have started doing a daily ‘Britain Decides’ election podcast (find it on iTunes). Even though we record it in a studio and it’s effectively a 20 minute radio show, it doesn’t come under Ofcom rules. In the first episode I used the word ‘bollocks’ which, of course, I could never do on air. We both giggled like children. I do remember once nearly using the word on air, but at the last minute caught myself and changed it to ‘grollocks’. Twitter, naturally, went berserk. There was no intervention from Ofcom…

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On Thursday I’ll be presenting my third LBC Election Night Show, and for the second time with Shelagh Fogarty. Let’s just say we like to think we offer a bit of an antidote to the coverage elsewhere. We also seem to be able to get results earlier than Sky or the BBC, so do tune in from 10pm on Thursday.

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Sometimes I really hate Twitter and vow to come off it. Emma Barnett, the Woman’s Hour presenter who roasted Corbyn on Tuesday, probably feels the same after Corbyn’s trolls stirred themselves into action to accuse her of being a Zionist and much worse. I encounter this virtually every day if I dare to even question a Labour spokesperson beyond ‘what would you like to tell the nation today’? I can roast a Tory MP alive and for the Corbynistas it will never be enough. I should at least have hung, drawn and quartered them first.

I did, however, have a funny incident this week. I quoted the Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie having a bit of a stooshie with Labour’s Ian Murray on Twitter. I tweeted ‘boys, boys, play nicely’. Back came the response from someone who clearly has too much time on their hands: “Why do you assume their gender?” Er, because they are called Patrick and Ian and I’ve met them…

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