The Labour leadership contest is already shaping up to be bizarre.
So far, Keir Starmer has found support for him taking the top job because he might be the inspiration for Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones, while Rebecca Long Bailey has been degraded by the mainstream press for… apparently looking like an alien.
Meanwhile Rosena Allin-Khan announced that under her leadership, Labour would create something called a “Ministry of Fabulosity”, dedicated to… fabulous things. Right then.
Not to be outdone, Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, helped add to the general air of WTF yesterday with an announcement of a last-minute plan to run for leader of the party.
At least, that’s what it seemed to be – no one’s really quite sure. Least of all Barry, it appears, who apparently confirmed, then un-confirmed… then confirmed again.
First, Lewis Goodall, Newsnight’s policy editor exclusively announced Gardiner’s candidacy in a tweet, adding that the decision had come after the MP for Brent North had been approached by several individuals, including Len McCluskey, the boss of trade union Unite.
The Huffington Post also ran a piece apparently confirming Gardiner was standing for Labour leader.
But then things got very foggy, as McCluskey tweeted an angry denial that seemed to imply that none of the story was true and Gardiner had made no such plans.
This, naturally, left people quite confused.
To make matters even muddier, Gardiner was at a climate change conference in Abu Dhabi when the news initially broke – which meant lots of people going back and forth, to try and figure out what was really going on.
In the end, however, Gardiner said he was running for Labour leader… probably. He actually said he’d decide within 24 hours – and also denied any involvement on the part of Len McCluskey, which is the aspect McCluskey’s tweets were probably addressing.
A lovely smooth beginning to the campaign. Start as you mean to go on and all that.