The Grauniad – pathetic, just pathetic

by Stephen Tall on September 18, 2007

I expect this kind of thing of downmarket right-wing tabloids like The Times. Naively I hold out slightly higher hopes for The Guardian. Alas.

Yesterday, Ming conducted an hour-long Q&A with Sandi Toksvig – it went down well in the conference hall (I heard several warm compliments from those who have been luke-warm about Ming). But for those outside the conference hall, of course, their verdict will be formed by the media verdict, which was as unkind as it was puerile.

The Grauniad’s Deborah Summers was ‘liveblogging’ the Q&A. Here’s a particularly emetic extract:

Asked about PMQs, Sir Menzies said everyone was nervous before prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, but Sandi insisted he didn’t make her nervous.

“Well, of course I’m a failure,” Sir Ming said.

It was a glib remark, but one that Sir Menzies will almost certainly come to regret. A roar went up in the press room as he said it.*

Do you see what he’d done? He’d made a light-hearted remark, which used the word ‘failure’ – oh, the glee in the media ranks! Oh, the relief! No longer any need to bother with boring policy about climate change, tax reform and combating poverty – now they had the real story of the conference.

Tedious doesn’t even cover it. So, take a bow, Deborah Summers and Hélène Mulholland, authors of The Grauniad report, Menzies Campbell gaffe fuels leadership debate, for trashing any pretence your newspaper might have for quality political commentary.

* Interesting to compare the Grauniad account with the write-up in The Times:

[Ming] then asked Toksvig if she too suffered from nerves before important engagements, which she admitted was the case, before adding: “Obviously you don’t make me nervous. I’m all right.”
“Well of course,” Sir Menzies replied. “I’m a failure.”

Somehow reads a bit different put like that, doesn’t it? Almost like there’s not really a story in it at all.

Oh, and for those who want to watch a little bit of the Ming Q&A, here’s some YouTube footage I grabbed. Sorry, I was so far back, but the hall was pretty damn full:

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It was a gaffe.

Four words that count.


I am a failure.

Actually Ming is far better than what comes next. But he did say these words and for Lib Dem activists to be bleating about quotes out of context (and ditto many political activists of any party including my own) is just plain silly.

Especially when spoken in jest or not it is technically true after some very poor local election results.

You’re adding fuel to the flames by complaining. IMO.

by Chris Paul on September 18, 2007 at 12:26 pm. Reply #


I don’t agree at all. Even as a member of another party I get frustrated with this kind of nonsense from the media, so god knows what it must be like as a Lib Dem.

I would like Liberal Democrat policies to be reported. I would like the policies of my party to be reported. Then we could have an informed discussion about whose ideas are better (mine obviously…!) instead of Ming vs Nick vs Chris vs anyone else the media have thought of from the top of their heads, which just completely wastes my time….


by Anonymous on September 18, 2007 at 2:03 pm. Reply #

Oops, that comment above was me, btw.

by Matt Sellwood on September 18, 2007 at 2:03 pm. Reply #

The Guardian’s had it in for the LDs for months, at least since the local elections. I gave up reading it in favour of the Indy a while back.

As LD policies tend to naturally fit the self-proclaimed politics of that alleged paper (when they’re not too busy giving voice to every right-wing halfwit in sight, in the name of “balance”), this frequently makes them look like a right bunch of prats.

by Richard George on September 18, 2007 at 2:35 pm. Reply #

Well that’s my future purchases of the Grauniad gone for a while…

by Ian Ridley on September 18, 2007 at 5:03 pm. Reply #

Have to say that given the habit of LDV of featuring and then puffing political trivia not policy, there’s more than a bit of “pot-kettle-black” going on here.

My view via the link on my name


by Matt Wardman on September 18, 2007 at 5:05 pm. Reply #

If it was a “gaffe”, all he has to do now is make a joke and say at the end of it “I’m a success” and he’s even, isn’t he?

Breathe in, breathe out….

by Paul Walter on September 18, 2007 at 5:23 pm. Reply #

“Trivia not policy”, Matt? Bollocks. Why not look here:

Trivia and policy – now that’s more like it 🙂

by Stephen Tall on September 18, 2007 at 5:30 pm. Reply #

I’m not a bit surprised, the days of the Guardian being the least bit liberal are long gone (as my grandmother said, it went downhill when it ceased to be the Manchester Guardian 😉 )

Its a mainly Labour supporting paper which is going increasingly tabloid-like (as is the Independent), this sort of thing will be common.
The fact that Polly Toynbee is paid so much to write such drivel has to be a sure sign that the paper isn’t that serious surely?

by Tristan Mills on September 18, 2007 at 5:46 pm. Reply #

” “Trivia not policy”, Matt? Bollocks. Why not look here: ”

Really! Stephen! I’ll report you to Father Tall!

by Paul Walter on September 18, 2007 at 11:23 pm. Reply #

Don’t bother, Paul, I’m right here reading and noting. I shall send him to bed without any tea when I next catch up with him. Whatever you do, don’t think he was taught his Anglo-Saxon vocab at home. It all began to go downhill when he was deprived of reading what he likes to call “The Torygraph”.
Father Tall

by Father Tall on September 19, 2007 at 12:01 pm. Reply #

Chris (1), you refer to, “some very poor local election results”. Do you mean the results this year when we came just 1% behind the governing party and scored the second highest share of the vote we have ever achieved? I assume you just swallowed the inaccurate media line without any independent thought of your own. Which is kind of Stephen’s point about the media having its own agenda.

by Stuart on September 19, 2007 at 3:03 pm. Reply #

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