Connect’s silly season round-up
Silly season is the glorious summer period in which politicians are dispatched on their holidays, and lobby journalists scrabble around for something, anything to fill the news. In the south of France, MPs quake in their flip flops at the thought of a two-page spread on whether they are “beach body ready”; in the UK, their pets hold a new fascination for the public.
Other countries have comparable phenomena. Germans have the Sommerloch (“summer [news]hole”); France has la morte-saison (“the dead season” or “the dull season”) and Sweden has nyhetstorka (“news drought”). In many languages (Dutch, Danish and Icelandic, for example), the name for the silly season references cucumbers, which is more charming than the alternative Swedish and Finnish terms for a silly season news item – a “rotting-month story”.
Whatever you call it, silly season is an essential part of the British summer. Now the politicians have come back to Westminster and normal politics has resumed, Connect commends the lengths that journalists went to in order to fill copy. Here are what we think were the top five political silly scoops of the season….
- Oh for the days of a political cover-up
It just wouldn’t be silly season without some snaps of politicians fallen from grace, letting it all hang out on a sun lounger. Cameron was again the subject of The Sun’s double-page spread on middle-aged spread, and the paper should be given extra credit for spotting that Dave has worn the same blue polo shirt he has worn on every family holiday since 2011. The Telegraph thought the story was all in the ex-PM’s £225 board shorts, just piquing Tony Blair’s £200 pair featured in the Metro. The Times must also take some points here for their headline and for spinning their coverage of the big event into advice to men on how to survive the “humiliation” of August clothing.
- Not so chipper now Dave
Cameron was spotted sitting on a wall eating chips. Full marks to The Sun for spinning an entire article out of one photo.
- I just can’t face it anymore
Yes, Nigel Farage broke Twitter with his appearance on Russia Today’s News Things programme sporting a brand new moustache. Speculation about Mr Farage’s rationale for the growth ranged from attempting a new disguise, to claiming that an immigrant caterpillar had found a home on his top lip. But The Express was on hand to reveal all – Mr Farage had, in fact, been “practising” for Movember.
Ex Justice Secretary and Tory leader wannabe, Michael Gove also tried out a new look this summer with a “slightly ginger” beard. Daily Mail columnist and wife Sarah Vine said Michael was “very much enjoying his new hipster look”, to the despair of hipsters everywhere. The Guardian had one too many pina coladas and started postulating about how Gove’s beard “offers him the road to redemption”, explaining that the stubble was in fact “the result of trauma coupled with the hankering for new worlds to conquer”.
- Number 10 turf wars
At number two it’s the No. 10 turf wars. Journalists watched in fascination as the great political rivalry between Theresa May and Boris Johnson was played out in a real fight, between Larry (Number 10 Downing Street’s mouser) and the Foreign Office’s Palmerston, with new Treasury cat Gladstone looking on wondering (like the rest of us) what he’d just gotten himself into. The BBC’s political editor was on hand to give us “exclusive” coverage on the feline fight (this is what we pay the license fee for, right?), and the Guardian chose to immortalise Larry in a blog in which he explains that he’ll “always be top dog at number 10”.
I’m not going to explain this – I don’t think I can. But The Times’ Matt Chorley treated Jeremy Corbyn’s political stunt with the derision it deserved.