Martin Land justifiably asks whether the press are actually at conference at all. Well, I have been into the cavernous press room and many human simulations appeared to be operating the computers, but certainly as far as the front pages (and pages 2-5 inclusive) are concerned, conference might as well not be happening.
I’m not sure this isn’t a blessing in disguise, and for the media as much as us. Consider this disturbingly moronic piece from Ann Treneman of the Times:
The question-and-answer session in Bournemouth was the first time that Nick/Dave had appeared on the conference stage as leader.
Of course it is, Ann, except for the Liverpool spring conference when Clegg was on stage as leader approximately 587 times, and except for yesterday, when he was on stage as leader for the packed conference rally which you probably couldn’t get into. Apart from those odd occasions, you’re spot on.
The first question came from a Lib Dem named Linda Jack.
At this point I start to wonder whether dear Ann was actually there. It’s a trivial point, but Linda’s question was the third question. The first two questions came from the Chair, Steve Richards. Why lie about that? Unless Ann felt it somehow rendered a stylistic improvement to her writing, in which case I can at least understand her motivation.
Later there was a question about whether Clegg placed himself on the left or the right of the party,
Nick ducked this, announcing (controversially) that he always described himself as a liberal. So, I thought, Dave’s a liberal conservative and Nick a conservative liberal.
I see. So by inserting a word into the sentence Clegg actually spoke, you can successfully make the sophisticated political point you were told to make at your editor’s brainstorming session last week. Gosh, that’s ever so clever. How do they come up with these elegant linguistic sleights of hand?
The piece desperately bludgeons its way to the conclusion that Clegg must be the same as Cameron on the grounds they both have children whom they like and are friendly to their members when having conversations with them. And this is supposed to be the “political sketch” of a national broadsheet newspaper? What did you draw it with? A bar of soap?