Trivia is supposed to be fun, not news

Two news stories have really irritated me this weekend, and since one is anti-Labour and one is anti-Tory, we even have a good, BBC-style, political balance.

The first was the press outrage that the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, was not going to attend a rugby match. I'm sorry, it's a game. Get over it. I don't give a stuff. I want my politicians sorting out important political stuff, not acting as celebrities by turning up at some event that has no significance whatsoever.

The second is that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, may have done something stupid as a young man involving a dead pig. (If you want to see some magnificent, but sometimes amusing over-reaction, take a look at the hashtag #piggate on Twitter.) This is doubly crass. First, once again, I want a senior politician focussed on the serious problems that the country and the world face, not on a silly story. But also how many of us can honestly say 'I never did something stupid between the ages of 15 and 25'?

I certainly can't. While I can assure my readers I never had anything dubious to do with dead pigs (or any other animals, dead or alive) I certainly did some stupid things that I wouldn't want made public. So, is this really news? Is there a public interest reason for sharing it? Don't tell me something idiotic done at that age tells us something about the mature individual, or we'd all be in the same boat.

Over the weekend, science writer Marcus Chown shared the quote above on Twitter. Anyone who knows Marcus and his politics might be a little surprised to hear who he was quoting. Apparently it was Margaret Thatcher. And it made an important point, reflecting the way Jeremy Corbyn has been attacked by the press. In fact, both left and right constantly attack politicians of the other side in this way. Both these 'news' items were essentially ad-hominem attacks saying nothing about how these politicians are doing their important jobs. And it's not good news or politics to use this approach.


  1. At Uni, I once woke up with a hedgehog in my bed... although in all fairness, it was put there by my roommate, who thought it was a hilarious prank. I didn't quite agree. (History does not record the opinion of the hedgehog, who was returned to the wild with no ill effects, although I imagine its hedgehog friends never believed one thing he ever said again.)


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