Wednesday 21 February 2018

Television: Boris, Ed, we all stand together

The Andrew Marr Show (BBC1), British General Election (All Channels)

Illustration: Jim Cogan
Illustration: Jim Cogan
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

In a recent column about the TV coverage of the British General Election, I made reference to the fact that many of the candidates, and indeed the commentators, seem to have gone to the same schools, lived in the same neighbourhoods, belonged to the same clubs and societies, attended the same dinner parties, and slept in the same beds.

I now realise that this was a generalisation which is not entirely supported by the facts, and I would like to take the opportunity to retract those words, or at least to modify them somewhat. Because in the course of a debate between Boris Johnson and Ed Miliband on The Andrew Marr Show, it emerged that the Tory boy and the Labour leader had indeed gone to the same primary school and the same university, but that they had not, in fact, gone to the same secondary school.

Miliband was keen to make this distinction, to assert this fundamental difference between himself and Boris, and their way of being in the world - the same primary school, yes, the same university, fair enough, the same secondary school? No way.

Though I couldn't help thinking there was still something in my original analysis when Boris turned his mockery on Andrew Marr, claiming that neither Boris nor Miliband "went to a school as smart as Loretto" - a progressive establishment, it seems. So Boris didn't go to the same secondary school as Andrew Marr either, but he still knows the name of the one that Marr went to, and knows its ethos.

Still, I accept that these major differences have emerged in the course of the campaign, and I would also like to correct something I wrote about the way Miliband is talking, the way he drops the "t" from the end of certain words, to sound more like a regular bloke ­­ - "I'm not doing it", becomes "I'm no' doing i'", for example.

But he somehow became even more regular last week during an interview with Russell Brand, when he urged Brand-y not to get carried away by feelings of euphoria, by the notion that if you vote for Ed Miliband, the world will be transformed - "it ain't gonna be like tha' righ'? It ain't gonna be like tha'", he drawled.

So now it's "ain't", and "gonna" too, by election day the man will be talking like some dude from deep in the ghetto played by Samuel L Jackson - depending on who he's talking to, of course.

They forget where they are sometimes, so that you can have David Cameron way back declaring himself an Aston Villa fan, only to reveal during a light-hearted moment in an otherwise completely meaningless speech that he is now supporting West Ham United.

If he was just pretending to be a Villa fan in the first place, in order to seem like your regular Ed Miliband, it would suggest on balance that he probably does not have a soul. And if he was sincere, but has since switched his allegiance to West Ham, that too means that he does not have a soul. Not that he'll be needing one wherever he's going.

And in the meantime we can enjoy his ways of appearing normal, which are more to do with his style of delivery than his vulgar Milibandian use of words. Having being told that he didn't seem to "want it" badly enough, he made a speech to his people in which he pretended to be angry at the notion that someone else might win the election and ruin all his good work - "that pumps me up", he fumed, pretending to be pumped up, as instructed.

He also declared that Russell Brand is "a joke", as he charged around the country in shirtsleeves pretending to have feelings he doesn't have, falsely claiming to support various football teams.

But the Tories have one joke that they really like, a joke that again tells me I may have underestimated the differences between these people.

It came from Boris Johnson of course, hilarious Boris, during that Andrew Marr interview when he put special emphasis on the fact that the Labour shadow chancellor is Ed Balls. Nonsensical name that, Ed Balls. The present Chancellor is called Osborne, which is so much better than Balls. Even if Balls was a contemporary of Cameron's at Oxford.

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