Eastleigh by-election: the BBC seems to have gone mad

Andrew Neil and Alain de Botton
“Can’t touch this. Break it down. Stop! Hammertime.”

I’m watching the BBC’s This Week special for the Eastleigh by-election. It is magnificently odd. This is to be expected when the two chief guests are John Prescott – who nowadays looks sort of like a shaved teddy bear and speaks in wonderful rambling sentences that go nowhere – and Michael Portillo, who looks more and more leatherbound and glossy with every passing year,  like an expensive sofa with good hair, and seems to say nothing at all, simply squinting gravely into the middle distance.

But it seems to have spiralled out of the producers’ control quite quickly. I have been reassured that I was not hallucinating when I saw Andrew Neil turn to the camera and with enormous gravitas intone the opening lyrics to R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly (“I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. I think about it every night and day. Spread my wings and fly away.”) Later he promised that “if you like your dancing Gangnam Style”, then Portillo and Prescott will be found doing as much down Annabel’s later on.

And why on earth did they wheel on Alain de Botton (looks like an Easter Island statue after a crash diet) come on to tell us about the importance of belief?

Luckily it’s all reverted to normality now as Grant Shapps and Chuka Umunna have come on to insist that it’s not a complete catastrophe for the Tories or Labour, respectively, and that they don’t know who’s going to win, even though they do perfectly well (clue: it’s not the Tories or Labour. Or Ukip).

Oh and in other news, I should say that despite (as predicted) Ukip not looking like they’re going to win, it does sound like a good night for them; close race for second place.


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