A complete ranking of the most hilarious political scandals of the decade

Zak ThomasSirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Saturday 28 December 2019 17:15
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(iStock)

Can we all agree that this decade has been a massive joke? It’s like we’re living in a horrifying parallel universe.

Imagine an alternative timeline in which Gordon Brown had formed a government with the Lib Dems and we didn’t have to cancel Nick Clegg. (Apparently we didn’t agree with Nick at all in the end.)

Anyway, to cheer us all up a bit, we’ve put together a roundup of the funniest political moments of the 2010s. You will notice a lack of Boris Johnson content here. That’s because – despite what he seems to think – the prime minister isn’t actually funny.

Here goes.

11. Michael Gove spectacularly failing to drink water

One would think it can’t possibly be *that* hard to sip water from a glass, right? Wrong. In 2016, Michael Gove tried to do just that, and the bizarre nature of his technique turned him into an instant laughing stock.

It’s something about the pursing of the lips and the look of intense concentration...

10. When David Cameron had no idea which football team he supports

Speaking of great balls-ups, David Cameron scored a hilarious own goal when he attempted to be “one of the lads”.

First he was all “I’m Villa till I die”, and then he was like “I’m forever blowing bubbles”. So which one is it, Dave? Aston Villa or West Ham?

Nevertheless, the David Cameron derby is now a thing.

9. Two years after the referendum, the Brexit secretary finally realised that trading with the EU is kind of important after all

In a truly baffling moment in 2018, Dominic Raab admitted that he “hadn’t quite understood the full extent” of the UK’s reliance on the Channel for trade.

This was, of course, one of the main points Remainers had been making for years. Perhaps if they’d put it on the side of the bus Raab would have taken notice.

8. When an MP accidentally told the world his personalised Google ads suggested he "date Arab girls"

In 2013, Tory MP for Croydon Gavin Barwell tried to shade the Labour Party and ended up wonderfully owning himself. There is something disturbing about this tale, but it’s so absurd it just had to be included.

After opening a link tweeted by the Labour press team, he popped off on Twitter to try to mock the party for including an advert which supposedly invited him to “date Arab girls”.

He clearly felt pretty smug about it, until Labour responded, explaining that Google ads are personalised… based on your own search history. Awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it.

7. When Jeremy Corbyn high-fived Emily Thornberry’s right breast

In June 2017, Corbyn was riding high on his own buzz, hot off the heels of a Glastonbury performance and about to win back 30 Labour constituencies in a snap election after boomers and centrists had spent two years branding him “unelectable”.

As the results rolled in and everyone dared hope just for a minute that the hellscape of a Tory government may actually be coming to an end (spoiler: it didn’t), Corbyn and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry shared a cute moment of celebration.

Except just as he went for a high five, she lowered her hand. It would have been bad enough if she’d just left him hanging (we’ve all been there) but instead, his palm just continued on its natural trajectory straight to… her breast.

Still, in a masterclass of ‘the show must go on’, neither acknowledged the bizarre awkwardness of the situation, and instead continued smiling and cheering, which just makes the whole thing even greater. What a moment.

6. Theresa May, ever the dancing queen

Britain lost its collective shit when Theresa May decided to dance on a diplomatic trip to Africa, but she refused to be shamed.

She went on to bust out her moves on two more occasions. Once at the Tory conference in 2018, awkwardly dancing on to the stage to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”.

And this year, in the last days of her premiership, video emerged of her dancing to (you guessed it) ABBA at a black tie event. Do you think she’s a fan of the greatest band in Eurovision history? We can only hope.

5. Ed Milliband’s bacon sandwich

Remember that pre-Corbyn life, when two geeky-but-also-weirdly-hot brothers who epitomised well-meaning champaign socialism were going to be the saviours of the left? Lols.

In the run-up to the 2015 election, Ed made the same mistake David had done six years previously, and tried to look normal while eating food. Holding a banana was bad enough, but Ed’s attempts at eating a bacon sandwich were just… another level.

It spawned memes galore, and given the Tory-supporting Sun newspaper put the picture on its front page the day before the election, some have credited the incident with causing Labour’s defeat. This seems a bit far-fetched, but suffice to say, no other party leader was ever seen eating a bacon sandwich as far as we can gather.

(Jeremy Selwyn )(Jeremy Selwyn)

4. The naughtiest thing Theresa May ever did was revealed

Will the “running through fields of wheat” meme ever die? We really, really hope not.

3. Tory leadership candidates spent a weekend desperately trying to one-up each other with their tales of drug-taking

It all began in June 2019 when Michael Gove was forced to admit he had taken cocaine on “several occasions”. Then things got full teenage-house-party as pretty much every other Tory looking to become leader started clamouring to share their stories of psychoactive hedonism.

Jeremy Hunt had a “cannabis lassi” when he was “backpacking through India”, which made for a delightful visual for us all. Subsequently, Dominic Raab, Andrew Leadsom, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey also bragged about doing a bit of pot back in the day.

The prize for the best story has to go to Rory Stewart though, who told us he smoked opium at a wedding in Iran. But fear not, apparently the family was so poor that there wasn’t actually much opium in the pipe so he may not even have got high. Good to know.

Boris Johnson, who of course went on to win the leadership contest, had little to say at the time, but in case you were wondering, he has admitted to doing cocaine. In 2005, he had this to say: “I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar.”

It seems that wasn’t the only time he was duped in the narcotics department. He subsequently admitted to doing cocaine and cannabis at university, but said it “achieved no pharmacological, psychotropic or any other effect on me whatsoever”.

Honestly if the man can’t even do drugs properly one wonders if he’s really the person we want running the country...

2. That time Ed Balls tweeted “Ed Balls”

In 2011, years before becoming a meme factory on Strictly, Ed Balls was crowned a social media icon for tweeting his own name.

Legend has it that an aide told him to check Twitter for articles mentioning his name. Instead he accidentally tweeted “Ed Balls”, and now 28 April will forever be Ed Balls Day.

1. #PigGate

Obviously, the country’s politics peaked in 2015 when it transpired that David Cameron allegedly had, um, ‘sexual relations’ with a pig.

We have no words. The former PM denies the claim.

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