Randall and Rentoul unleashed: Election Oscars 2010
Debate continued until the early hours, so tight was the battle, but, finally, Gillian Duffy and Gordon Brown stood out from the crowd
Sunday 09 May 2010
Politician's quote of the campaign
The smartest, as you might expect, was Neil Kinnock's: "If you want charisma, buy a ticket for the cinema. If you want someone to effectively manage the economy, then you will vote Labour." But, a few days later, Gordon Brown laid both hands on the award with his angry words after what had seemed like a perfectly amicable encounter with Rochdale grandmother Gillian Duffy. Settling into the back of his departing limousine, he growled: "That was a disaster. You should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It's just ridiculous... She was just a sort of bigoted woman."
Voter's quote of the campaign
The acclaimed winner was Mrs Gillian Duffy of Rochdale. Told by eager journalists what Gordon Brown had said about her, she looked taken aback, a trifle hurt, and then said: "It wasn't the 'bigot', it was that he said 'that woman'. I thought: What does he mean, 'that woman'? It's not nice, it's not nice at all."
Most accurate opinion poll
The NOP/Ipsos Mori exit poll, which predicted the Conservatives would win 307 seats. Which (including Thirsk, still pending due to death of Ukip candidate) they did. The other polls were pretty good, too.
Most risible manifesto launch
As if the appalling content of the document were not bad enough, the launch of the BNP's manifesto was rendered even more preposterous by the presence next to Nick Griffin, BNP leader, of a man dressed as a crusader. He looked like the bloke from the Medieval Wars of Religion Re-enactment Society whose costume is so bad he is asked to stand at the back.
Edvard Munch Memorial Facial Expression of the Campaign Award
There were several nominations, ranging from David Cameron's strenuous efforts to stifle his rising self-satisfaction, to George Osborne's less successful attempts to rearrange his features into something other than a sneer. But the clear winner was Gordon Brown for That Smile – a chilling thing, desperately trying to convey bonhomie only to resemble the face of a serial killer as he corners another defenceless victim.
Grassroots Campaigner of the Year
Esther Rantzen, standing as an Independent in Luton South, who went canvassing at a mosque with the words: "Good morning. I'm a 69-year-old Jewish lady and I want your vote."
The Bad Creativity Prize for most misleading broadcast
A Conservative internet-only video called 13 Years of Labour Failure. It included footage of the Millennium Dome, a project started under the last Conservative government, with a newspaper headline saying that ministers had accepted it had been a mistake. And footage of the Iraq war with a headline from the Daily Mirror saying that the weapons dossier was "dodgy", although Conservative MPs supported the war more enthusiastically than Labour MPs did.
The Front-line Services Award for most irritating cliché
"Game changer"; but "black hole", "three-horse race" and "the elephant in the room" were worthy runners-up.
Most opaque party
Most parties' names contain at least an intimation of their attitudes to life: Greens, Liberals, Conservatives – all capture something of the essence of the grouping. So it is with some of the minor parties: The Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Get the Snouts Out of the Trough Party, Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers, and Community Need Before Private Greed. Not so with the Virtue Currency Cognitive Appraisal Party. And a visit to their website to read their manifesto clinched the award. It is long, full of random capital letters, and, one suspects, drafted in green ink. Something of its impenetrable flavour can be gleaned from the opening lines: "How Money became abolished, or should be abolished if it as such, it still exists, is because Nanotechnology computer Bum-Downers broke the Censorship upon which the evil stuff depended for its lethal existence." We think they're opposed to money, but wouldn't bet on it.
The Insult the Voters' Intelligence Prize for crudest slogan
"Sod the Lot" – the UK Independence Party.
Most toe-curling moment of the debates
A category dominated by the brooding, and spectacularly untelegenic Gordon Brown. A strong case was made for his attempted joke – the point when, at what he thought was an appropriate moment, he produced a pre-scripted remark: "These two guys remind me of my two young boys squabbling at bath time." But in the end, it was decided that, for sheer, peep-between-your-fingers embarrassment, it could not match his refrain of the first debate: "I agree with Nick."
Most risible bribe
This award, for the Eatanswill Shield, goes to David Cameron and the Conservatives, for thinking that that clichéd body of mugs, "hard-working families", would be seduced into giving him their votes by the thought of an extra £3 a week.
Silliest anti-Clegg story
Once the first debate was over and the Liberal Democrats surged in the polls on the back of their leader's performance, the Tory papers went into panic-struck silly smear mode. Nick Clegg was posh! He'd been an amateur actor! He was a bit foreign! He spoke foreign, too! And he liked Europe! Not content with that, the Telegraph produced a story about money, which went nowhere; and the Sun and Express implied he was possibly the biggest threat to Britain since the Luftwaffe. But the Mail, snide as ever, produced the winner: a story based on a 2002 article in which Clegg wrote: "'All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still. A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off." Once translated into malicious Mailspeak, Clegg's view became that our cross was GREATER than German guilt over the Nazis. Thus, the headline: "Clegg in Nazi slur on Britain". Goebbels couldn't have done it better.
The Comedy Playhouse Award for best heckle of the campaign
On the day before polling day, Nick Clegg declaimed: "Some people will say it can't be done." Voice from the back of the crowd: "It can't be done!"
Most self-interested intervention
The assiduous letter-writing by sundry "business leaders", in support of Conservative opposition to a rise in National Insurance contributions. Their motivation, they said, was a concern for the nation, for the poor little people whose future employment might be jeopardised by this small on-cost. It had, of course, nothing to do with hitting them marginally in the bottom lines, and therefore trimming their own multidigited salaries and bonuses. Perish the thought.
Most judicious choice of clothing
David Cameron for shrewdly declining to wear a morning suit for his sister's wedding. He rather stuck out in his vote-for-me suit, but spared himself the embarrassment of being pictured in Bullingdon-style toff togs.
Least helpful celebrity intervention
Simon Cowell, who came out for the Tories. This was not exactly the shock of the campaign, since he is an immensely rich man famous for his put-downs of ordinary people. His demeanour manages to make the Conservatives' other big-name backer, Sir Michael Caine, look like St Francis of Assisi.
Most memorable image of the campaign
There is one image that no amount of therapy and tranquilising drugs will remove for a long time. And that, of course, is Gordon Brown sitting in a BBC studio for The Jeremy Vine Show, headphones slightly awry, burying his head in his hands as the recording of his Gillian Duffy outburst is played back to him.
The Elephant in the Room Award for most under-debated issue
Climate change: David Cameron did mention his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow – in an interview with the IoS at London City Airport, before he got on a private jet to Manchester. In a close contest, the deficit failed to make the cut, because it was discussed (including by this newspaper) even if mostly as an issue being avoided by the parties. This newspaper also identified the international military operation in Afghanistan as under-debated.
Most anti-gay Tory
Philippa Stroud, candidate in Sutton and Cheam, who, according to a report in The Observer, founded a church which believed that homosexuality could be cured by the power of prayer. She lost.
Where Were They? Award
George Osborne emerged the winner in a competition made complicated by its being a test of absence. Like that game where you have to name the objects that have been removed from a tray, it was hard to judge the relative non-presence of: women, collectively; David Davis; Vince Cable; Oliver Letwin; and John Major.
Most arcane reference in a speech
Gordon Brown rolled out a reprise of his greatest hits in his suddenly passionate speech to Citizens UK, ending with citations of Cicero and Demosthenes. Purists said he was misquoting, but we join the applause for his attempt to raise the tone. Should have been in the Greek, though.
Most apposite metaphor
Nigel Farage's plane crash on polling day. The former Ukip leader emerged bloodied but intact from the wreckage of a light aircraft that had been towing a "Vote Ukip" banner, which rendered further commentary superfluous. Run a close second by a nasty car smash metres away from a Labour campaign launch in Birmingham, when the sound of screaming tyres, breaking glass and smashing metal interrupted Peter Mandelson's introduction of Gordon Brown.
Last week we asked for haikus about a hung parliament. Fiona Monk, 12, wins a set of finger puppets of the party leaders. She can conduct the inter-party negotiations on the fingers of one hand.
I voted Labour.
I hope they didn't win. Oops!
Microphone's still in.
The two runners-up
Behind closed doors there's
Wheeling, dealing, bargaining.
Is this the answer?
Sharing power? Hard.
Like sharing your best pudding!
We'll need a sharp fork.
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