The Londoner: Labour orders no tears on poll night

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While Jeremy Corbyn is eager to have voters think a Labour majority is a likelihood, The Londoner understands that the party has been training candidates in a slightly odd way: in how to not cry on election night next week.

Labour organisers have been told to ensure there are no clips of members or candidates shedding tears following exit polls, according to a mole. The advice was given at a training day for more typical campaigning, such as “How to act at an election count” and “How to get out the vote on polling day”. A confused staffer told The Londoner: “When we heard that there was going to be a new strategy in the final weeks I had no idea ‘lose, but don’t cry about it’ was what they had in mind.”

Politicians have long had to prepare a stiff upper lip on election nights. Former Tory MP Matthew Parris lost an election for Wandsworth borough council in 1978 by 12 votes and shouted out loud: “F**K.” “It just popped out,” he told The Londoner. “The young returning officer sitting near me looked shocked. I immediately felt ashamed.”

Labour may be taking its cue from Conservative disappointment at the 2017 election results, when the party failed to get a widely predicted majority, with MPs including Gavin Barwell losing their seats. It was reported that on election night, as results conformed to the shock exit poll, one Tory staffer “was physically sick and keeled over”.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson was already one drink in at the Uxbridge Conservative Club when news of the eye-watering exit poll arrived. “Hmmm. Let’s see how this goes,” he is said to have told a colleague. While a “Portillo moment” is the name given in political circles for a shock defeat, after defence secretary Michael Portillo lost his Enfield Southgate seat in 1997, the man himself says it shouldn’t be associated with tears.

“You seem to be implying that I cried which I did not,” he told The Londoner. “Please check the footage.”

Rare Welsh bits

Writer Russell T Davies has no qualms about using his largesse. “As I get more power,” he confessed to an RTS audience in Wales, “I try to put Welsh characters into everything.”

The Swansea-born Doctor Who writer explained: “When I was young, there were no Welsh characters on television at all, and that’s a fact. “I remember my dad calling us in from the street when [Swansea-born actor] Margaret John was in an episode of Z Cars.” TV star Gethin Jones, who was interviewing Davies, confirmed: “You brought the industry that we have now to Wales.”

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No respite for prizes that award joint winners. At last night’s Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award, won by poet Raymond Antrobus, judge Kate Clanchy told The Londoner that the shortlistees “haven’t formed themselves into a collective” as the Turner Prize winners did. “They haven’t done any such rubbish.”

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Dominic Grieve’s Tory opponent in Beaconsfield, Joy Morrissey, doesn’t seem to share his eye for detail. A leaflet listing her six top priorities if she is successful on December 12 contains 10 grammatical mistakes ranging from missing the “c” in conservatives in an email address to a wrong address and missing apostrophes. Even Morrissey’s name has been misspelled. Oops.

Gina hits back with a home truth

Gina Miller is the master of the polite filleting. The campaigner told a How To Academy audience last night: “Someone sent me a link to a website that has raised over £200,000 to send me back home.” Miller sleuthed out the man behind it and emailed him. “I said, ‘It’s really kind of you to send me this money, but my taxi fare is £20, so perhaps you’d like to return the rest of the money.’ “I didn’t hear back from him.”

Magic moments in Bloomsbury

(Dave Benett/Getty Images for Tan)

Actor Luke Evans and Viscountess Weymouth found themselves bamboozled last night by magician Archie Manners, whose card and coin tricks left mouths agape at Bloomsbury House. At a party launching the Tanqueray Townhouse, Manners was joined by pop star Pixie Lott and actor Jaime Winstone. Strictly star Weymouth regaled The Londoner with her most listened to songs for 2019, according to Spotify. “Lots of British rap,” she explained, pointing to Stormzy and AJ Tracey, before adding: “Oh and, of course, Lizzo. I love Lizzo.”

Nearby in Mayfair, another star of British rap, Little Simz, wowed guests at a Bella Freud party, while just a short hop away in Monaco a more reflective event was taking place. Following hasty rebookings of flights due to French strikes, singer Nicola Roberts, model Neelam Gill and actor Wallis Day took in the private view of “Human Being, Being Human” by artist Farzad Kohan. Something to muse on.

SW1A

Michael Gove gave out the phone number for Downing Street on live radio this morning. Asked to give a number between one and 10 for how likely the PM was to agree to an interview with Andrew Neil — which Johnson has since declined — the senior Tory instead offered the No 10 switchboard number and said: “If you ring the Prime Minister’s diary secretary, she will know what the Prime Minister is going to do.” The Londoner duly rang through but the operator told us: “We haven’t got that information right now.” Were they getting a lot of calls? “You could say that,” they sighed, adding, “obviously the number wasn’t supposed to be given out. I don’t know why it was.”​

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Jo Swinson has so far failed to repeat “Cleggmania” but she is doing her best to change that. At a Scottish Lib Dem rally in Edinburgh a sign for a special “Swinzone” selfie area appeared. Form an orderly queue.

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