I’ve never met the woman that the Newsnight editor Ian Katz last night accidentally described as ‘boring, snoring Rachel Reeves’, so for all I know, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury might be an absolute riot. Although actually, writing that, it occurs to me that maybe I have and she was just too boring for me to remember. Perhaps we sat next to each other at some sort of function, and had a fun chat about, ooh, fiscal prudence in a post-OBR paradigm, which involved her talking and me going ‘Mmmm’, and left her thinking, ‘He seems nice, I wonder if we’ll be friends?’ as she walked dreamily to the Tube, only for me never to call because the whole experience had immediately slipped from my mind like water slips from a raincoat, ultimately leading to her reading this, now, and being struck with righteous, albeit boring, fury.
In which case, sorry. But ‘Wow! Who is THAT?’ is something which nobody watching Newsnight will have said. Asked whether this woman could one day be prime minister, a focus group would have replied, ‘Dunno, sorry, I wasn’t actually listening.’ Katz didn’t mean to broadcast his criticism (it was a private message on Twitter, which went wrong like they always do), but his criticism was nonetheless quite fair. This wasn’t a shy victim doing her best. This was conscious boringness, designed to make the watching public give up and go away.
Lots of politicians do it. Gordon Brown only did it, except for on the rare occasions that he tried smiling and looked like a serial killer. And I don’t think they realise the harm they do. In the Times last week, m’colleague Tim Montgomerie hailed the election of Tony Abbott in Australia as a triumph of the BoreCons — solid, dull, centre-rightists, quietly getting on and governing.