Say what you mean, and mean what you say

by Daniel on October 5, 2003

Apologies for a post which will of necessity not be of interest to anyone who doesn’t follow UK politics, and will not necessarily be understood by anyone who doesn’t follow the media circus surrounding UK politics. But I’d just like to use the columns of Crooked Timber to send the following short message to people working in UK political journalism (I happen to know that at least two people in that circle read us).

If you think that you can prove that Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has an alcohol problem, you should say so and risk being sued. If you can’t prove it, you should shut up about the subject. But either way, please spare us the current round of innuendo, jokes and photographs of the man with a glass in his hand. It’s childish, it’s dishonest and it’s unfair to your readers (like me) who end up without a clue as to whether this is a piece of common knowledge within Westminster that’s being hushed up, or just a piece of fairly childish and malicious injokery. You’re the bloody British press, not popbitch.

Sorry about that. I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.



Chun the Unavoidable 10.05.03 at 11:43 pm

You can say what you want to about the Melniboneans, at least they don’t have these insane libel laws.


Conrad Barwa 10.06.03 at 3:28 am

I can’t figure out why this is doing the rounds as well; though it seems to be fairly low key and hasn’t registered much on my (limited) radar. He enjoys a tipple and likes to get tipsy – big deal; we have seen sober politicians and the dumb-ass antics they get up to, so he is doing remakrably well. It is not as if he has done an Alan Clark right in the House or something.


James Russell 10.06.03 at 7:36 am

There’s a difference between the mainstream British media (or at least elements thereof) and Popbitch?


Maria 10.06.03 at 7:40 am

Hear hear!

It’s curious that these innuendos seem to wax and wane in inverse relation to the fortunes of the lib dems. Directly following a by-election win (against the government) and a successful party conference, the stream of ‘wink wink nudge nudge’ is in full flow again.

And as to popbitch, read it religiously every week, but the one time they wrote about someone and something I knew, it was so badly twisted for nasty effect that they got it completely wrong.

Lesson, anyone?


dsquared 10.06.03 at 9:06 am

Crooked Timber blind item of the week: Which famous person does Maria know, and what was the popbitch rumour that they twisted and got wrong?


Nasi Lemak 10.06.03 at 11:54 am

Colin Farrell!


Matthew 10.06.03 at 1:28 pm

Given what Colin Farrell freely tells the Radio Times,

“I ended up on a shrink’s couch and he told me to write down how much I did in a week.

“Twenty E’s, four grams of coke, six of speed, half an ounce of hash, three bottles of JACK DANIELS, 12 bottles of red wine, 60 pints and 280 fags. He looked at me and said: ‘No wonder you’re depressed.'”

I doubt one needs to make much up about him…


Maria 10.06.03 at 1:46 pm

eerily fast and accurate guess Nasi.

more like used to know though, and I’m not dishing the story in question – it involved another, rather more litigous, person and it’s my job to know far more than is healthy about the potential extraterritorial reach of slander awards regarding online content.

sorry! good story though…


Zizka 10.06.03 at 7:15 pm

People should also stop spreading the rumor that I sometimes post in an impaired state. It’s Nabakov you’re thinking of.


tverny 10.06.03 at 11:07 pm

it was the tories what did it this time, though the allegation was an old one that did the rounds a long while back, mainly in diary columns and the likes of Private Eye, and on Have I got news for you.


serial catowner 10.06.03 at 11:09 pm

The British press without pictures of people holding drinks? What are you thinking! It takes a tall stiff one to wrap yourself around the concept of the LibDems as the successors to the Tories. All part of the fun….


Bungo 10.07.03 at 12:59 am

But takeaway gossip, innuendo from the British Press and what are you left with? Perceptive critique of sporting tactics? Careful analysis of balance sheets in the city pages? Cool anlysis of the differences on pension policy between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair? Give them Posh & Becks, flung football boots, Gordon & Tony, star fund managers, Richard Branson, Eddie the Eagle any day.

Most of the British Press aspires to a smiley face on Popbitch. FACT


Frank Wilhoit 10.07.03 at 3:47 am

Just think what they’d do to Asquith, if he were still around!


Nabakov 10.07.03 at 3:50 am

Oi Z, I rarely impair in a posted state.

And I bet many of the people behind the Kennedy innuendos would be among the first to nominate Churchill as the all time Greatest Brit – a man whos political career was well lubricated by anyone’s standards.


Pete Guither 10.07.03 at 2:22 pm

I’m not sure why you say this will only be of interest to those in UK politics… Many of us in the US are tired of the constant references to liberal Democrat Kennedy as being a drunk…

… Oh, sorry. You said “Charles,” not “Edward.”

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