The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

In It For The Money

Well, that last blog was popular. Who knew that so many people (5700 and counting) would want to know about Jeremy Corbyn’s EU referendum campaign. I’m glad I wrote it. I regret – a little – being so cheeky about his supporters – who are really the well-meaning victims of a confidence trick -  but, well, I’m not in the business of winning hearts and minds, I’m just having fun.

Anyway, enough about politics, back to Doctor Who, and the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine which has another The Fact of Fiction by me in it, this time about the 1977 adventure The Sun Makers. It was fun to do, but tough because there aren’t alternative drafts of the story knocking about, and the story has already been quite extensively researched (particularly by Jim Smith for the DVD Production Subtitles). That said, I hope I found some new things to say – there’s some topical references that haven’t been picked up before, and while I couldn’t find any pre-Columbian source for the sun god face in the Gatherer’s Office I did at least find the source of the sun makers’ logo. I also had some fun disproving some repeated-wisdoms about the story – no, the opening shot does not resemble the opening shot of Rudolph Cartier’s production of Nineteen Eighty-Four at all, I’ve checked:

The one thing I didn’t have room to include in the article are my own memories of watching the story, back when I would’ve been four years old. I don’t remember much of it – this was the beginning of a long run of episodes which took place in corridors and which didn’t have any memorable monsters – but I do recall a sense of the hospital-like sterility of the corridors, particularly the one shot on location. I think I remember the bit where they throw the Gatherer off the roof – it’s played and shot as though it’s one of those bits in Monty Python where they throw a dummy out of a tower block, but it’s basically Mussolini being strung up in a petrol station.

The only scene I remember with any clarity – and bear in mind, I remembered absolutely nothing of Image of the Fendahl, Underworld and The Invasion of Time, so I’m not even sure I watched them – is the bit at the end where the Collector is – spoiler warning – revealed to be a green blobby alien (haven’t had one of those for a few weeks) and vanishes down a plughole. Yes, it’s suddenly struck me that they were basically doing the Rutan again, weren’t they? I’m not sure what the point of all this is, except to say that in the days before videos, before novelisations in many cases, the only way you could keep these stories alive was in your memory. A few years on, and I’d remember Destiny of the Daleks and City of Death almost on a shot-for-shot basis (they were repeated, which helped). 

But it’s interesting, I think, how enduring some television memories can be – I’m not sure how many specific moments from my early childhood I remember, it’s all a muddle of places and people – but for years I have been haunted by unplaced memories from shows and films which have turned out to be Quincy’s Quest, a schools adaptation of Mr Humphries and his Inheritance, the musical Carousel, and most embarrassing of all the Rentaghost Christmas special. I think I’ve ticked them all of now, there is nothing outstanding (well, maybe a vague memory of an edition of Emu where they were in a lighthouse, but that’s all mixed up with Horror of Fang Rock).

Anyway, I’ve digressed. The point is, new Doctor Who Magazine, exciting feature by me on the classic story The Sun Makers, rush out and buy it now.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Here, There And Everywhere

Today’s blog is a bit of a Sherlock Holmes adventure. As well as an opportunity to get something off my chest (or out of my system). You see, during the EU referendum campaign, Jeremy Corbyn was conspicuous by his absence. Lots of people noticed, some of them didn’t mind, some of them thought it might even be helpful. But since then, his supporters and even his own semi-official Corbynfacts page have claimed that ‘he gave 122 speeches during the course of the campaign’.

This is patently not true. And it’s bugged me. It bugs me because I am pedantic, and it bugs me because this sort of blatant disregard for truth typifies Corbyn’s leadership and his re-election campaign. He and his press people assume – probably with good reason – that his supporters aren’t particularly interested in facts, and will happily trot* out whatever they are told without question. That they are, in word, credulous.

I am not writing this blog to change their minds. They are not particularly interested in facts. They are hermetically sealed within their own truth-bubble of confirmation bias. Nothing – not even Corbyn losing a general election by a vast margin – could burst that bubble. There are always excuses, it is always somebody else’s fault.

By the way, one of Corbyn’s supporting groups have an infographic about how many miles Corbyn travelled during the campaign. It may very well be correct, I don’t know. But surely the point is how many appearances he made at events open to the public, and how well-attended they were, not how much time he spent on a bus or a train between them. I mean, you can chalk up a lot of miles just by having a very badly-planned itinerary!

I am simply writing this blog out of my own bloody-minded pedantry. To get it out of my system. And so that anyone who doesn’t blindly support Corbyn can have a giggle at the blatant nonsense his followers have swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Okay. So The Mirror have finally picked up on this story, and realised that the ‘122’ claim is approximately based on a study by Loughborough University on media coverage during the election. That is a study of news coverage, not the number of events – so, for instance, if the same public appearance or, more likely, counterproductive blunder during an interview, was reported on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, that would count as four appearances.

Following this, our glorious leader’s press office have reluctantly given rather-light-on-the-specifics details of his work during the campaign. I quote in full.

“His activity included:

10 EU rallies, with speeches and meetings in London, Bristol, Stroud, Newquay, Perranporth, Cardiff, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Runcorn, Manchester, Truro, Sheffield, Widnes, Doncaster, Rotherham, Hastings, Brighton, Dundee, Aberdeen and Birmingham.
These included a meeting with student nurses in Birmingham, a factory in Runcorn, a clean beaches event in Truro and campaigning with activists in Scotland.
Launched the Labour In bus and the Ad Van.
A debate on Sky News with Faisal Islam, also talked about the EU on the Agenda and the Last Leg. Appeared on the Andrew Marr show twice and on Peston on Sunday.
Written two op-eds, one in the Observer and another in The Mirror.
Reached more than 10 million people on social media.
Six statements to the House of Commons and 10 PMQs on the EU.
He has been consistent on this issue from day one of his leadership, issuing a statement in September that “Labour will be campaigning in the referendum for the UK to stay in the European Union”.”

Well, there you go. I’ll go through it. This is where the fun begins. The game’s a foot!

10 EU rallies
It’s not clear which of the following events were rallies so I’ll investigate them all in turn. I will do this via the ingenious mechanism of searching for them on google using ‘Corbyn’ and the town name in the date period of the referendum campaign (i.e. 10 May 2016 – 22 June 2016). That way, even if they were picked up by a local news outlet, or even just reported by somebody on their blog, I will find them. Sadly Labour haven’t bothered to keep a comprehensive list of these events, many do not seem to have been publicised on the Labour website or anywhere else.

What I am interested in are three things. How many people attended each of these events, whether it was directly related to the EU referendum campaign, and whether it was open to the public. Sadly I don’t think I can find out the third of these, so I’ll just have to fixate obsessively on the first two.

I link to my sources because I care about facts.

(Note: For venue capacities I’ve just looked up the various venues' own websites and counted the largest room available. You can google them yourself! The dates are those on the reports, the actual events may have been the day before)

London – I can find two events:

We’re off to a good start here. This was in a hall with a capacity of 450 and a quick check on Getty Images shows that it was full and was definitely an EU Referendum event.

22 June – Granary Square
The final campaigning event of the referendum, where Jeremy was joined by Sadiq Khan, Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones. There were about 200 supporters there. Not much of a turn out!


I am indebted to Jos Bell (see comments) and Simon Redhumbersider of twitter for bringing to my attention another London event at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre.

14 May – Queen Elizabeth II Centre – Fleming room?  
Going from Jeremy’s twitter video it seems to have taken place in the Fleming room (capacity 500) but, as Jos has pointed out, the video also reveals a large number of empty seats; the event “was just over half full and began an hr and half late”. Let’s be generous and say 300 people were there?  

I am indebted a second time to Simon Redhumbersider of twitter for details of a second event that had eluded me.  

14 June – Congress House  
A TUC rally – ‘Our NHS; Safer in’. As far as I can glean from this photo and this photo it was attended by about 100 TUC delegates and members of the media.  

Later the same day Jeremy also participated in a private photo-call with the members of the shadow cabinet and trade union leaders. Does this count as a campaigning appearance? Up to you. 
Another Remain event, in a hall with capacity 250.

19 May – Ecotricity
Oh dear. This wasn’t a Remain event. This was to launch Workplace 2020, whatever the hell that is.

4 June – The Atlantic Hotel
We’re back on track. This was a Remain event. In a hall with capacity 300. Very posh place! How the other half live, eh?

4 June – The seaside
Oh dear. This was a brief walkabout. As far as I can gather from the photographic evidence, Jeremy met a young lady who had her photo taken with him. Whether they discussed the EU Referendum, it is hard to ascertain from the media coverage. Not sure it counts as a rally though.

3 June – City Hall
Hooray, another proper Remain event, in a venue capacity 500. And it’s even described as a ‘rally’! You see, it’s not all walks along the seafront!

14 May - Imperial Hotel
Jeremy spoke to 200 members of the Fire Brigade's Union. This was not a Remain event, the referendum seems not to have been even mentioned.

Jeremy attended the GMB annual conference. To – oh dear – launch Workplace 2020, seemingly for a second time! He did, however, to be fair, mention in passing that he supported Remain during his speech, so good for him. You see, it’s not all bad

"Dozens of students and young Labour members crammed into the back room of the Casa on Hope Street". Only dozens? What's wrong with you, scousers? Don't you want to hear Jeremy speak? Why do you all hate him so much?

Can’t find anything. The best google can offer is Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Widnes (see later).

A definite Remain event. Venue capacity – a mere 100. Another event was planned but cancelled.

4 June- ?
This seems to have been part of the trip to Newquay and Perranporth. I can find several reports of Jeremy saying “I’m doing an event in Truro” but history – or at least google searches – do not relate whether it went ahead, and if it did what it was or where it was (and if a public appearance fails to get reported, not even in local newspapers or the blogs of Labour party supporters, does it really count anyway?). Sadly it seems not even one young lady had their photo taken with him! So much for the famous warm welcome of Truro!

Note: I realise there is supposed to have been a ‘clean beaches event’. However, even using that phrase to search google provides no answers!


A check on twitter reveals that Jeremy ate at a seafood restaurant. He must be one of those vegetarians who thinks that fish don't count! But what he did during the day, if indeed he did anything, remains a mystery! There seems to have been an event planned but I can find no evidence that it actually took place.

Another Remain event, hooray. The attendance is hard to gauge, as no venue is specified, but we do know that it consisted of “an audience of apprentices from the AMRC Training Centre” of which I imagine there were several. Sadly none of them have so far blogged about this no doubt uplifting and inspirational experience.

I can find no evidence of any other events in Sheffield - see entry for Rotherham.

He visited a factory that makes wind turbines. Not a rally or a public event, it was a photo-opportunity!

27 May – Town Centre
Rather excitingly, not only was this a Remain event, but there is video footage proving that it definitely took place! Stick that up your jumper, Owen Smith! Tragically there is also photographic evidence that even with both Jeremy Corbyn and Ed ‘scintillating’ Miliband heading the bill, it failed to elicit much interest from the good people of Doncaster and was mainly attended by journalists following the campaign.

They also visited Raventhorpe Solar Farm for a photo-opportunity, providing this wonderful image. 

"Mr Corbyn took part in a tough question-and-answer session with the student audience."

He also visited the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the 16th June, which, in turns out, is not actually in Sheffield but in Rotherham. So it turns out Jeremy never actually visited Sheffield at all!
Ah, now this is what I like to see. A news report of an actual “rally” with “scores of supporters”. Our glorious leader even tweeted about it. The venue has a capacity of 600. Can you see 600 people in that photo? Oh, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it was full, there were 600 people there even if you can't see them all, alright?


I am reliably informed it was well-attended - see comments below for an account from Richard who was there.

Another union conference appearance, as well as another seaside walkabout!  Sadly the union conference doesn’t seem to have touched on the Remain campaign to any great degree. Or maybe it did and it wasn’t reported by the mainstream-media, that is also a possible factor that can’t be ruled out.

13 June – City centre
Jeremy’s visit was previewed and reported on by the Dundee Courier but on neither occasion do they report where he went, or who he spoke to. What a shit newspaper. However, the fact that his appearance wasn’t reported by anyone else speaks volumes about the standard of journalism in Dundee in general. Stick to the Beano, guys.


A check on twitter reveals that there was a small photocall in the city centre. It wasn't reported by the local press. My friend Dan happened to be passing and saw the vast crowds.

More video evidence, of Jeremy making a surprise visit to a fete. Sadly it wasn’t pre-publicised so doesn’t seem to have had much of a turnout. However, can I just say that the Evening Express is head and shoulders in its reporting above the so-called Dundee Courier.

Jeremy also spoke to a small number of students, as detailed on his twitter account

Another discussion with a small number of students, this time nursing students, with the conversation seemingly focusing on student bursaries. However, if the Remain campaign wasn’t discussed in any great detail, Jeremy was at least wearing an ‘IN’ sticker, and it was all worthwhile because he then went on to do this photo-opportunity with Tom Watson:

However, how many people did he actually speak to in Birmingham? Can’t have been more than a couple of dozen.


I a
m indebted once again to Simon Redhumbersider for providing details of a rally that wasn’t reported even by Birmingham’s local newspapers or local news websites.

9 June – The Venue, Edgbaston

The event was publicised here. Sadly it seems that Guardian firebrand Owen Jones and Neena Gill were unable to attend and were replaced at the last minute by Jack Dromey. Jeremy Corbyn’s twitter photo shows that it took place in the Chamberlain Room, maximum capacity 300.

Have I missed anything out? Have I got anything wrong? Maybe you know of some other events? Maybe you can help fill in some of the blanks? If so, I'd be delighted to hear from you and to add the relevant information.

Well, that’s the grand tour. What about the rest of it? It’s getting late, I’ll be quick.

These included a meeting with student nurses in Birmingham, a factory in Runcorn, a clean beaches event in Truro and campaigning with activists in Scotland.

At least one of these failed to make even the pages of a local paper...

Launched the Labour In bus and the Ad Van.


A debate on Sky News with Faisal Islam, also talked about the EU on the Agenda and the Last Leg.

I don’t get Sky. Weird, isn’t it? There’s me, refusing to giving money to Rupert Murdoch on a point of principle, and there’s Jeremy, on Sky. I’m glad to hear he was also on two other TV shows I don’t watch. I daresay one or two Labour MPs are kind of wishing he hadn’t made that appearance on The Last Leg, yes, I capitalise the T, deal with it. Note: I have since been informed that I do get Sky News as part of my Freeview package. I was not aware of this.

Appeared on the Andrew Marr show twice and on Peston on Sunday.

Good-oh, that’s your job.

Written two op-eds, one in the Observer and another in The Mirror.

Reaching out to your comfort zone there (that sounded less rude in my head). I can’t be bothered to go and find these, I daresay they would move me to tears with their erudition and insight.

Reached more than 10 million people on social media.

That’s nothing, Ricky Martin has 14 million followers on twitter and he hasn’t even had a hit for like ages.

Six statements to the House of Commons and 10 PMQs on the EU.

That is literally your job.

He has been consistent on this issue from day one of his leadership, issuing a statement in September that “Labour will be campaigning in the referendum for the UK to stay in the European Union”.”

Chinny reckon. That’s all I can say to that. Chinny reckon.

I hope you have enjoyed this informative and well-researched look at Jeremy’s pro-Remain tour activities. As you have just read, if you go through all the events and add together the maximum possible attendance of each one (assuming that there were no journalists or party workers bumping up the numbers!) then it seems that during the entire Referendum campaign Jeremy spoke to audiences totalling about 2500 people (and, oh boy, I am being generous with those figures!).

Note: Additional information of two more London events and one more Birmingham event brings the total up to about 3000.

You may wish to compare and contrast that with the number of people he’s spoken to as part of his campaign to be re-elected as leader.

* Pun intended.

Friday, 12 August 2016

End Of The Line

This is the speech I gave to the Winchester CLP yesterday, on the 11th of August. Well, an extended version, I only had three minutes so had to cut a bit of it. This is the director's cut. Of course, with these meetings everyone has already decided how they are going to vote before they turn up, but that's not the point. The point is just to provide people with information, and maybe sow some seeds of doubt that will bear fruit further down the line; so that if Labour does split, or loses in the next general election, people will go 'Hang on, that guy said this would happen, oh god maybe he was right'.

I’m going to be as brief as possible, just by sticking to two points.

I’m not going to detail about policy differences between Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn because there aren’t really that many policy differences.

In fact, whenever either of them announces a new policy, five minutes later the other one says “Hey, not fair, that was my idea first!”

But there is one big difference between them.

Owen Smith has said that if he is leader, then, under Labour, the UK will not leave the EU without the public agreeing to the new deal in a referendum.

Which is kind of a good policy whatever you believe.

If you think we’ll get a better deal, then why not put it to the public, and if you think we won’t get a better deal, then this is a good way of stopping it.

On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn has said that if he is leader, he will not oppose the UK leaving the EU.

Whatever deal the Conservatives come up with, he will not oppose it.

No matter how bad it is for British workers, no matter how bad it is for British businesses, for our science, our culture, our economy, no matter how bad it is for the NHS, he will not oppose it.

He is happy to accept the result of a referendum that was based on blatant Conservative lies and UKIP racism. 

With Jeremy Corbyn as leader, Labour’s policy is simply to leave the EU as soon as possible.

Never mind that two thirds of Labour voters voted for us to remain; we are not interested in them.

Never mind that thousands of Labour members campaigned for remain. We are not interested in them.

No. Whatever dodgy deal Theresa May cooks up with Boris and Liam Fox, Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not oppose it.

Now, you might say, but Jeremy is right. We lost the referendum, we should accept the result.

And that is an entirely reasonable view to take. It’s cool. But the point is this.

This was a major change in policy on the biggest issue facing our country. 

So who did Jeremy consult before making this decision?

Did he consult the shadow cabinet? No.

Did he consult the National Policy Forum? No.

Did he consult the parliamentary party? No.

Did he get a vote passed at conference? No.

Did he consult any of you here in this room at all, in any way? No.

And that’s not democracy. That’s not respecting democracy.

You might agree with him, you might disagree, but in the end your opinion doesn’t matter either way, because you were never even asked.

My second point is what this vote will mean for the future of the Labour Party.

There are two options.

Option one. A vote for Jeremy is a vote for the party to continue as it is now. Without enough MPs to provide a functioning opposition.

Because I know one thing. All those MPs who voted that they have no confidence in Jeremy as leader are not going to suddenly gain confidence in him if he wins.  A few of them might decide to return to the shadow cabinet, yes one or two, but not many.

No, no matter how many people vote for Jeremy, the vast majority of Labour MPs will still not have confidence in him because he has made no effort to regain their confidence, he doesn’t seem interested in doing so.

And the threat of deselection or any other form of intimidation isn’t going to change their minds. 

The idea that they will all fall into line behind Jeremy is pure fantasy.

So we will just continue as we are now, with a party that is divided. A party at war with itself. 

I don’t know if the party will split but I do know it will not be united. 

It will not be a functioning opposition.

And we will go into the next election, and we will lose, and we will lose badly, and we will let down every single person who needs a Labour government.

And every single member who voted for Jeremy as leader will bear the responsibility.

In order to illustrate the point, I’ve provided a couple of visual aids. Just to focus minds on the sort of public humiliation we will face.

Or, there is the alternative. Option two.

A vote for Owen Smith will mean, at the very, very least, that we will have a leader that has enough support amongst his MPs to form a shadow cabinet. To provide an effective opposition and to hold the government to account.

And it will be an opposition which is united, which is effective, where every MP from every side of the party is fighting on the same side. Where every member of the party is part of the same team.

That is a Labour party to be proud of.

That is a Labour party that people will vote for.

That is a Labour party that can win seats at the next election and wipe out the Conservatives' wafer-thin majority.

It’s not impossible. We can do it.

But we can only do it with Owen Smith as our leader.

Thank you for listening.