Work and life have kept me from this little ledge for a week, but Boris Johnson’s baby (mark six, apparently) drags me back.
Yesterday’s headlines were full of the happy news. A cynical person might wonder at the clever management of it all. Less harmonious headlines about coronavirus, floods, Home Secretary Priti Patel and the resignation of top civil servant Sir Philip Rutman were temporarily overshadowed by the Boris baby blimp.
Of course, even such an arch manipulator as Boris Johnson can’t have arranged for his partner Carrie Symonds to fall pregnant at such a convenient moment, although you wouldn’t rule out him having tried.
What’s interesting about this story, if it’s interesting at all (discuss without shouting) is the attention it garnered. The Sunday Telegraph devoted most of its front page to the story under the headline: “No 10 wedding – and a baby too.”
The Mail on Sunday devoted six pages to this ‘news’ – six whole pages on two people having a baby and pity the poor hack who had to come up with that sickly sludge.
Johnson generally has an easy ride from the newspapers, too many of which lavishly support everything he does, seemingly forgetting the difference between a news story and a press release.
It is interesting to imagine how similar news would have been reported under different circumstances. Imagine if a twice-divorced Labour prime minister was having his sixth child with a much younger woman. Those “and a baby too” proclamations would have been replaced with headlines about how the prime minister’s conduct undermined the morals of society, or some such swill.
Imagine if a woman prime minister was having her sixth baby to different fathers. Imagine if a Labour woman prime minister (unlikely at present, it is true) was having her sixth baby to different fathers. It is easy to see the barely disguised slut-shaming that would have unleashed.
But Boris Johnson having his sixth child? Oh, shake those happy clappers and don’t worry about anything else. Ring out the embarrassing headlines and forget about the journalism.
It’s all oddly depressing but of the grubby moment. We’re stuck with Johnson and Dominic Cummings pulling the strings that make his arms jerk around.
And we’re stuck with a government that refuses to be interviewed by leading BBC or Channel 4 news journalists. A government that threatens to tear the BBC apart (having forgotten to mention that before the election). A government that stamps its foot with the EU, still playing by bully-boy Eton rules instead of finding a sensible way forward.
And soon there will be two babies in No 10. With luck looking after the smallest one will keep the bigger one busy for a while.
As the Guardian feature writer Simon Hattenstone tweeted…
“How to cope with bringing a baby into Number 10. Burp him, change his nappies every few hours, and do your best to stop the little f***er destroying the country.”
Can’t see that one making headlines…