Of all the insults that appear in response to anything I say or do, my favourites are those essentially saying nobody cares. Because it begs the question – why do they bother reading or listening? Or, at the upper echelons of politics rather than the lower reaches of online life, why try to get me removed from TV debate programmes?
I liked the one recently from the ‘Time for Change’ logoed person saying I was a washed up hasbeen, which is why he never bothers reading anything I write – followed by a line by line rebuttal of what I had written.
Whether here, on twitter or on Facebook, fair to say the majority of commenters are probably of the Labour variety. But even though we are now in Opposition, with the coalition absorbing most of the political space, plenty of Tories like to come along and show off their humourlessness.
Yesterday was a good example as I started something of a trend with a couple of tweets pointing out that Frank Lampard never missed two successive penalties under Labour, and Bangladesh never saw an opening partnership of 140-plus against England under Labour. Statements of fact I think you’ll find.
The Lampard tweet in particular – as I will try to point out to Christine Bleakley on The One Show on BBC1 tonight – prompted a bigger response than anything I have done since the TV debates and Adam Boulton’s live toys-out-of-pram-tantrum.
This led first to my education by fellow twitterers, enabling me to create my first ever hashtag #neverhappenedunderlabour – something which did indeed never happen under Labour.
This led to a major flurry of tweets through the evening and through the night and a very clear dividing line quickly emerged. The Labour-leaning tweets tended to be quite witty. The ConDem tweets tended to be rather sour and humourless. I’m not saying all the Tory tweets were devoid of humour, but that is where the centre of gravity lay.
It will be a terrible shame if humour is a victim of the coalition. As you may know, volume one of my diaries, Prelude to Power, is published tomorrow, and in it you will find plenty of examples of Tory wit, not least from my old muckers Alan Clark, Nick Soames and David Davis. Likewise I can look at the Lib Dems and think of plenty of moments of wit and wisdom provided by the likes of Ming Campbell, Charlie Kennedy and even dear old Alan Beith who speaks Norwegian and plays the trumpet.
And whilst I accept that losing your first minister overboard so soon after forming a government is no chuckling matter for the ConDems, there is something to be said for always looking on the bright side.
I think the problem for a lot of these Tories and Lib Dems is that they are convincing themselves they are really getting on, whereas deep down they sense this really is a marriage of convenience and unless you are very lucky, they are not the most stable or happiest of relationships. So the humourlessness, and the lashing out at hasbeens like me, is all about failing to confront that. Poor things.
I must confess that my sympathy for David Laws has somewhat diminished since reading the Hansard account of his speech in the Budget debate. Oh, how he was loving being the Tory axe-man of the moment, and trying to rub Alistair Darling’s nose in the post-election dirt. With hindsight, hubris springs to mind.
It has been fun too to watch the Tory media, with the obvious exception of the Telegraph, trying so hard to go along with the Clamberon line that this is a story of a personal tragedy involving a brave, brilliant and honourable man. This sympathetic approach to non-Tory politicians certainly never happened under Labour, as Nick Clegg discovered briefly when the Sun and the Mail were trying, post TV debates and pre Rose Garden wedding to Dave, to do him in.
One final never happened under Labour that I need to clear up. Needless to say I am being inundated with questions about why I am not in the Soccer Aid line up this year. Well, when I say inundated I mean a couple of hacks, and a few family and friends who have enjoyed the hospitality of previous Soccer Aids.
Now the line – obviously – is that given I have a book out this week, the organisers must have realised I had a very busy schedule and therefore felt it highly unlikely that I would be able to take part. I am sure Zinedine Zidane is gutted that he will not be able to join Pele, Maradona, Figo, Zola, Desailly, Schmeichel, Romario, Dunga, Mattheus, Ginola on the list of players who have played with AC. But hey ZZ, life is tough.
I suppose there is the outside possibility that the organisers felt that at 53, I was maybe past my best, and that Hollywood stars Mike Myers, Woody Harrelson and Simon Baker, not to mention singers Ronan Keating and Shane Filan, or boxer Joe Calzaghe, might get more bums on seats than a former spin doctor. All I know is that a Soccer AId without me #neverhappenedunderlabour
Finally, I will give a signed copy of Prelude to Power to the author of the best #neverhappenedunderlabour tweet, FB comment or comment on here. The judge’s decision is final. And le juge, c’est moi