No laughing matter!

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‘What’s happened to this politician is actually extremely funny, but I’d better not put it in the story like that…’

During 23 years with the BBC, and a 40 year journalistic career (when he was trained to use clear and simple language, avoiding jargon), our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry has covered innumerable elections (indeed his first television interview was with a Welsh MP during the 1987 campaign), and there were invariably amusing incidents in them which rarely made headlines. It’s likely to be the same too during this election.

It seems to me that politicians could learn a lot from laughing at the situation.
There is, for example, this classic (although largely unknown) quote from Robert Byrne: “Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least”.

Or there is the brilliant line in The Simpson’s when Homer declares: “The next time I vote for you I’m going to MEAN IT!”.

“The next time I vote for you I’m going to MEAN IT!”

In fact The Simpson’s has almost cornered the market in excellent quotes that politicians should take note of.

One is: “Why won’t somebody please think of the children?!”
In other words – the parties may be outlining a golden future, but whether they deliver or not is another matter!
But perhaps during this election, they should also be aware of WC Fields saying: “I never vote for anybody, I always vote against”.
“I never vote for anybody, I always vote against”


The behaviour of our parties may also be under scrutiny in the weeks to come for other reasons as well, and this is encapsulated in Joseph Kennedy’s comment: “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide”.
Or in what the dictator Stalin proclaimed: “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything”.

Don’t look across the pond for the way it’s done either, because as Juan Cole has put it: “If you put your politicians up for sale, as the US does … then someone will buy them — and it won’t be you; you can’t afford them”.

“I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them”

Then there is from Adlai Stevenson: “I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them”.

Apart from that one, such jokes that do exist are usually delivered by NON-politicians, like the one circulating now on the internet showing Rishi Sunak striding through a marina, with the caption: “Could you direct me to the Titanic? I’m the new deckchair attendant”.
The reality is that elections don’t actually decide very much, and this salient fact is put pithily by Mark Twain when he wrote: “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it”.

Politicians in fact are humorous all the time (but don’t mean to be), and the stage-managed ‘photo-opportunities’ which we’ll see a lot of, are a case in point.

The calf later died

We have had the joke of Margaret Thatcher cuddling a calf which died shortly afterwards, Mr Sunak (in this campaign) going to a Welsh brewery and asking locals if they were looking forward to a football championship, which Wales hadn’t actually qualified for.

In the past we have also enjoyed Gordon Brown being recorded calling one voter a “bigoted woman” for which he later had to apologise, and Boris Johnson doing almost anything—though  ‘fridgegate’, when he hid in a fridge to avoid being interviewed, was a notable low.

Gordon Brown had to apologise to the “bigoted woman”

Perhaps we should look to Henry Cate VII for help: “The problem with political jokes is they get elected”


Some of the political stories Phil has covered over the years, when humour was hardly ever allowed, as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP)have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

“Could you direct me to the Titanic? I’m the new deckchair attendant”

Tomorrow – a UK Government review of migration has underlined the fact that Cardiff is a main driver of economic growth for Wales, as well as providing a much-needed boost for the country’s university sector.