If the battle against Daesh was a PR war, we should send in Ant and Dec

Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn debate the merits of negotiating with Daesh (IS if you prefer) and Ant and Dec. No, not at the same time.

Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn debate the merits of negotiating with Daesh (IS if you prefer) and Ant and Dec. No, not at the same time.

The big news story yesterday (August 18) was Owen Smith’s announcement that he would seek peace talks with Daesh (sometimes called IS) if elected leader of the Labour Party – despite the fact that this organisation is clearly interested only in killing westerners.

But the news agenda was dominated entirely by a silly bit of fluff involving Jeremy Corbyn’s inability to recognise television favourites Ant and Dec.

Mr Smith’s claim that he could get the Arabic (it would be insulting to that religion to call them Muslim) terrorists around the negotiating table crossed a significant line.

Where previously he was simply denying the reality that most Labour electors knew Jeremy Corbyn must remain as leader and more were accepting it every day, now he has ventured into the realms of lunacy. His claim to have been involved in the Northern Ireland peace process at a time when he was a BBC producer, not a politician, didn’t help either.

But the prevalence of the Ant and Dec story confirms that the British mass media crossed that lunacy line right alongside him.

“As if Labour’s core support in its northern heartlands wasn’t precarious enough, its leader has just insulted the two most famous and best loved Geordies ever to walk this merry earth,” wrote (for example) ‘Media Mole’ in The New Statesman, under the headline ‘Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t know who Ant and Dec are and it’s the worst thing he’s ever done’.

“In the most chilling moment of his career to date, Jeremy Corbyn shrugged his shoulders when presented with a photograph – so full of innocent cheer, yet to be dashed – of the perpetually chirpy duo of TV presenters, Ant and Dec.

“The irony is that Ant and Dec have openly spoken about supporting Labour in the past.”

Somehow it seems unlikely that any such support is likely to be shaken by Mr Corbyn’s lack of recognition for them. Quite the opposite, possibly, as they might appreciate a politician who takes his work seriously.

The story was all over the news yesterday. But where was that other sure-fire talking point – Owen Smith’s rash (and perhaps suicidal) claim that he could get Daesh around a negotiating table?

Well, it was there – but it got seriously garbled.

“Owen Smith, the Labour leadership challenger, sparked controversy on Wednesday by suggesting a British government would have to negotiate with Isis to end the conflict in the Middle East,” wrote Heather Stewart, political editor of The Guardian.

“By contrast, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has sometimes been accused of being too willing to associate himself with extremist groups, said Isis should not be allowed to take part in talks. ‘No, they are not going to be round the table, no.’ Later a spokesman for Corbyn criticised Smith’s remarks as ‘hasty and ill-considered’.”

Meanwhile, on Twitter: “Both Corbyn and Smith want talks with Isis. A group that only wants us dead. You can’t negotiate with terrorists.”

Fortunately (for them) that did not come from any of the major news outlets. But if one person can make the mistake, how many more have?

Jeremy Corbyn's opinions of Daesh (or IS, or ISIL, or ISIS - they're vile, whichever name they use).

Jeremy Corbyn’s opinions of Daesh (or IS, or ISIL, or ISIS – they’re vile, whichever name they use).

In fairness, many Twitter comments were right on the button.

For example: “Having a meeting with Isis or not knowing Ant and Dec – What do you think gets the headlines? Yep not knowing the millionaires.”

Here’s one on how the media interpreted the two stories: “Negotiating with ISIS = “gaffe” Not knowing who Ant and Dec are = “disrespectful” ok ”

There’s this: “So making excuses for Smith about talking to ISIS, but not knowing Ant and Dec makes him unfit to lead.”

Then there’s this: “Someone please explain to me why Corbyn not knowing Ant and Dec is a national news headline?”

But the favourite has to be this: “So let me get this straight. We’re… sending Ant and Dec to negotiate with Isis?”

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14 thoughts on “If the battle against Daesh was a PR war, we should send in Ant and Dec

  1. Brian

    Owen Smith might just be on to something here, were he PM negotiation might be the way forward, although a couple of questions need clarification, exactly whose table would he negotiate around, and were it Downing street, could we enact the ‘members of a terrorist organisation, legislation and raid downing street and arrest the lot.

  2. Zippi

    … and we wonder why this country is going down the toilet(!) Who CARES if he knows who they are, or not? Does he NEED to know? I’ve met Anthony but I’m in the same line of work. Kim Kardashian? I’ve still no clue as to who she is, what she does, or why her name is in my vocabulary. Why is it necessary for politicians to know who television presenters are? Please(!) Who is writing this nonsense? Surely, it is their ability to do their jobs that should be called into question, unless, of course, these people were journalists for entertainment publications?

  3. paulrutherford8

    I for one am heartily sick of such puerile ‘journalism’ (if it even qualifies as such).
    Ant and Dec are as relevant to Corbyn’s political abilities as a piece of seaweed.

  4. mohandeer

    I’ve heard of Ant and Dec, didn’t know they were geordies though and wouldn’t know them if I tripped over them in the street. Since JAN has split from Al Qaeda and Al Sham are in league with Syrian opposition army – who exactly is DAESH and who is not? Does Smiff know who DAESH are, (If he does, he might like to tell the head choppers which group they belong to because most of them don’t know) or anything about the conflict?(For those who don’t know JAN is Jabat al Nusra).The majority of the terrorists fighting in Syria are mercenaries from over 32 different countries and most of them won’t fight alongside each other. Serbian Muslims will most definitely not talk at the same table as Bosnian mercenaries and the Chechnyan’s won’t play nice with the Ukraine Right Sektor nazi terrorists and the Mosul Kurds are now fighting against everyone. Get the picture Owen Smith? The trouble with hollow promises, is that you can be made to look a right prat when you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. Even the US is divided on who to supply with arms and the UN is totally confused but Owen Smith will talk to DAESH(which is a slang word that no longer applies because the group it was originally named to insult are in different groups) – just as soon as he can find them.!!!! What an utter dipstick.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The misuse of “Daesh” was my mistake – but one that is easily made, from the looks of it.

  5. Giri Arulampalam

    I am supporting Owen Smith.He is like our “Tony Blair” without the posh grammar school and Oxbridge background. I have a feeling Owen will take our Labour Party to
    Downing Street in 2020!!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You do realise Tony Blair is practically considered to be a Tory nowadays?
      It wouldn’t be “our” Labour Party under Owen Smith. It would be “their” Labour Party.
      Like the Tories but slightly less posh.

  6. Joan Edington

    I wonder if any commenters heard Owen Smith’s interview/debate, or if maybe there have been 2 occasions this week when Sith talked about IS. If this was the occasion that my husband heard, he never said that he would “seek peace talks” or “sit round a table” with IS. He merely pointed out that, a few decades ago, nobody would have thought that the UK government would have been talkiing peace or sitting round tables with (ex?)members of the IRA. I don’t back Smith often but, if that was actually all he said and the media has twisted it as usual, it was a fair point.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      He said his piece at the morning hustings on Wednesday. I saw it, and he was reported correctly.

      1. Joan Edington

        Ah, so there were two occasions. Hubby was referring to an interview on Victoria Derbyshire (he still listens to the BBC). Obviously Smith watches his mouth a bit better on TV.

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