ELECTION ROUND TWO… seconds out By Ian Hernon

The general election suddenly skipped Brexit, the NHS and antisemitism and briefly focused on transport.

Not the omnishambles record of Transport Secretary Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling – responsible for last winter’s train meltdown and who hired a company with no ferries to handle cross-Channel ‘No Deal’ emergency planning.

Instead it was the decision of both Labour and Liberal Democrats to hire campaign battle buses manufactured by Chinese giant Yutong instead of British makers.

The Conservatives made much of that, skimming over the fact that during Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Brexit campaign, his bus was made in Germany.

This time around he has not made the same mistake but has largely ditched the bus. Instead he is criss-crossing the country in a private-hire executive jet which he himself has dubbed ‘Con Air.’

There are at least three ways you can interpret that gag. ‘Con’ either means, in this context, Conservative. Or con-trick. Or Nic Cage’s 1997 Hollywood Con Air gun-fest in which an airliner carrying convicted criminals on Death Row crashes and burns. Either way, his choice is neither woke nor green.

The breakaway Change UK party has a mixed record. In the European elections earlier this year they used a British bus plastered with an upside-down Union Jack. 

Meanwhile, the election gets increasingly surreal while Boris and Corbyn fight over who is best-placed to deliver post-austerity investment in both the public and private sector. Both accuse the other of ‘fake news’ over their respective costings.  

The election is fast turning into a Goon Show script: Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson dropped her party’s “Bollocks to Brexit” election slogan on grounds of taste. Boris refused the offer of British doughnuts in Nottingham, saying: “I’m fat enough.”

And Labour replaced former deputy leader Tom Watson, who had lost eight stone as part of his fitness regime, as Parliamentary candidate for West Bromwich East with restauranteur Brahim Dogus who founded the British Kebab Awards. This is in no way denigrating Mr Dogus, who I’m told is a fine man and no Corbynista, but someone on Labour’s selection panel clearly has a sense of humour.

Boris Johnson invoked the cult film Groundhog Day, saying the UK cannot afford to “squander” more time deciding whether and how to leave the EU.

But former Tory Justice Secretary David Gauke promptly rubbished Johnson’s plan.  With friends like that…

And finally, a fond farewell to former Cabinet heavyweight Frank Dobson, who has died aged 79.

He was a robust Health Secretary during the early years of New Labour, noted for his un-PC humour – he once told The Queen that one has to swallow Viagra very quickly to avoid getting a stiff neck.

Whether or not Her Majesty was amused was not recorded. But I doubt that the new crop of MPs post-election will be so colourful.

SECOND ROUND SCORING: Tories 10-6

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