Last Thursday morning, says Charlotte Ivers in The Sunday Times, the Politico Playbook newsletter – required reading for nerdy Westminster types – began with “171 words detailing the canapés at a parliamentary drinks reception”. We learned about the “triangle chunklets of corned beef hash”; the chicken liver parfait that “resembled a nuclear red button”. This sparked a backlash among earnest SW1 folks, who complained about the “trivialisation” of political journalism. What they don’t seem to realise is that “canapégate” is “the rule, not the exception”. Our politics has become a “big, miserable machine, churning out inanity”.
Just look what happened when it emerged that Rishi Sunak had been filmed not wearing a seatbelt – a non-story if ever there was one. Labour and the Lib Dems immediately “rowed in”. Lancashire Police started investigating, “which was weird since the police rarely seem to investigate anything much nowadays”. There were phone-ins, legal opinions, even calls for the PM’s resignation from two of his own MPs. What a circus. Other examples of these faux-scandals include Sunak’s use of a government jet to travel up north, and the “exact circumstances of Keir Starmer’s chicken tikka masala” during lockdown. The obvious culprit for all this rubbish is the media – but it’s not all our fault. The Tories have “run out of ideas”, and Labour isn’t much better. “Unserious government makes for unserious news.” Britain “used to make warships. Now we make endless, interminable cycles of argument.”