Same Old Clichés, Same Old Jargon? Time To Move On

SADIQ KHAN: “Lessons need to be learnt.”

YOU really can’t switch on the telly without being informed that this or that is ‘challenging’ or that ‘lessons need to be learned’. A former security minister accused Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, of not being better prepared for this summer’s Wembley Euro Final: “The mayor has said lessons need to be learnt, but perhaps he should specify what lessons should be learnt and why all the previous lessons haven’t been learnt already, given he’s responsible for them.” Ouch! Sound familiar?

But politicians should always avoid being sarcastic with the Westminster press as it can often backfire. In a new book on politics, former BBC political correspondent, Carole Walker, describes David Cameron getting hacked off on an overseas trip with the press pack who had claimed he was planning cuts to the SAS. “You forgot to mention I’m also going to get rid of the Red Arrows,” the then PM informed the hacks.

After he left, his press secretary assured everyone this was just a bad-tempered joke. But the next day’s Daily Mirror ran: ‘Red Arrows Face Axe’, quoting ‘sources with the prime minister’. The furious press secretary demanded a correction resulting in the Mirror running a story declaring victory in its ‘Save the Red Arrows’ campaign.

Walker also describes Harold Wilson persuading the BBC to move the time of ‘Steptoe and Son’ on the evening of the 1964 election because he feared it’d give those at work an excuse not to vote after work. The then BBC director-general asked Wilson what he would rather they broadcast instead. “Greek drama,” Wilson replied. “Preferably in the original.”

Wilson later claimed he reckoned moving ‘Steptoe’ to a 9pm start helped him win (or hold) 20 seats. (His majority was only four.) Indeed, maybe you watched the full rerun last year of the BBC 1964 election night – and the next morning and afternoon? And a memorable line, when interviewed at 3am. Interviewer: “How do you feel, Mr Wilson?” HW: “I feel like a drink.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘The Sentinel’, ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ ( available online as eBook (€0.99; £0.99), Apple Books, paperback and audiobook. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity. 

Nora Johnson’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.