Matthew Norman: Simon Cowell casts his vote

Media Diary

If this should prove the last general election in which our newspapers exerted any influence over voting intentions, at least the end came with a bang and not a whimper. Neatly reflecting the campaign itself, the battle between The Sun and the Daily Mirror for ownership of the most unhinged partisanship went to the wire, but The Sun nicked it at the death thanks to Simon Cowell. Devoting yesterday's front page and an inside spread to the musings of this curiously underrated political analyst was a masterstroke. Mr Cowell, who by happenstance seems precisely to share the paper's opinions on hung parliaments and everything else, wrote of his love for his country with all the moving passion expected of the Beverly Hills expat. "I have always hated celebrities lecturing people on politics," he began, adding that the business of choosing governments is different from voting for X Factor contestants.

Having cleared that conundrum up, Simon focused his attention on knife crime, part of his solution to which is "zero tolerance". How true, and how good to see him leading from the front on this. As that same Sun reported last September, 16-year-old X Factor contestant Curtis Moore had been tagged after "terrorising" the town of Redditch with his blade. "The knife revelations are a blow to X Factor bosses," reported the paper, "who allowed Curtis on the show despite his crimes. But yesterday they said they would not kick him out." Zero tolerance of knife crime, then, with the one tiny loophole when there's money to be made. Already leading political academics, Vernon Bogdanor among them, are describing this as the most coherent and potentially decisive music business contribution to the Tory cause since Kenny Everett called for the kicking away of Michael Foot's stick, and it's hard to disagree with that.

As for the Mirror, its tough, no-nonsense counter-strike came in the terrifying form of TV's Hardest Man, Ross Kemp (Ross Wade as was). Ross, who hasn't summoned the law to protect him from a seven-stone redhead for a while, was pictured yesterday alongside Sarah and Gordon at a campaign event. For those who glanced at the snap and assumed the caption was wrong, we would point out that Zippy from Rainbow is not a Labour fan (he's a noted supporter of Ukip, and has even been touted as the party's next leader in the aftermath of Lord Pearson's legendary interview with Jon Sopel). Ross would have become a Labour MP years ago but for his official duties as Forces Sweetheart. The sooner the troops leave Helmand and free him for his calling, you can't help feeling, the better for British democracy.

Meanwhile, it was reassuring to hear the Prime Minister, whose party's final election broadcast Ross consented to front, taking a loftily dismissive view of the celebrity endorsement on 5 Live yesterday morning with Nicky Campbell. "Come on, it's not about what one or two celebrities think," said Gordon. "Ross would say this is an election that's going to be decided by the people." It has come to something when the Prime Minister's eve of election address to the nation draws on the political thinking of Ross Kemp. What, I'm not sure. But definitely something. Incidentally, that was among the best hour's worth of phone-in I've ever heard, thanks partly to Nicky's admirably sharp questioning of Gordon (the man's hardly to all tastes, but there's no denying the talent); but primarily due to the call from Alan, a lung cancer patient who calmly reported how he is relentlessly bullied by the benefits people to look for work, before adding a stark, "I'm dying." Unforgettable stuff.

As for Mirror political supremo Kevin Maguire, to him go the laurels for the election's Most Wittily Self-Parodic Bracketed Thought. "The Daily Mirror's anti-Tory tactical voting guide today caused a stir," blogged Kevin on Tuesday, "not least because it (unintentionally) coincided with Ed Balls ... dropping heavy hints for electors to use their heads as well as hearts to keep out Cameron." Unintentionally indeed. Can you picture Kevin's shock on discovering that his own ferocious tribal loyalism had yielded to more pragmatic concerns at precisely the same moment as Ed's. It's a miracle, it's a miracle ...

Finally, another instance of Jungian synchronicity afflicts The Times, which suddenly finds itself aligned with the Tories over Liberal Democrat defence policy. A fortnight ago, on the eve of the foreign policy TV debate, it splashed with the news that several leading generals had boosted Nick Clegg over Trident. "Writing in The Times, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, etc ... express 'deep concern' that the future of Trident has been excluded from the Strategic Defence Review that will follow the election." On Tuesday, the paper splashed on the subject once again. "Nick Clegg's credibility on national security is called into question today by senior defence and intelligence figures," went the intro. "Writing to The Times they said that Liberal Democrat policies risked leaving Britain exposed to terrorism and diminished on the world stage." God knows what explains this startling volte-face. But perhaps Mr Cowell wasn't the only US-based media mogul with ambitions to shape the outcome of this wonderfully bizarre election.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home