After 2016, which was arguably the most unpredictable political year in recent memory, 2017 has had a surprising number of dubious moments too. Since this list will mainly focus on political gaffes and mistakes (mainly in Britain and the USA), shocking events such as the suicide of Slobodan Praljak or the resignation of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe last month will not feature in this list.
20) Tim Farron being constantly quizzed on gay sex
The then leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, raised controversy when he refused to deny that the act of gay sex is a sin which eventually played some part in his resignation. Farron came into my college (he’s a former student) earlier this year, just before the election was called, for a Q&A and I asked my Twitter followers if there was anything they’d like me to ask him. One person suggested that I should quiz him on his comments about gay sex, but since I wasn’t fully aware of the story at the time I instead asked him whether he would rather go into a coalition with Labour or the Conservatives. Of course, he avoided the question.
19) Strong and Stable Bananas
How many times did we hear the words “strong and stable” over the election campaign? Perhaps the most memorable time was when Jeremy Corbyn was offered some “strong and stable bananas” on a visit to Leamington.
It turns out the prankster was a young Conservative member, and student at Warwick University, who did this to point out that Corbyn’s policies were “a bit bananas.”
18) Corbyn Accidentally High-Fives Emily Thornberry’s Chest
The morning after the election, Jeremy Corbyn was celebrating a remarkable result in his home constituency, with fellow Islington MP Emily Thornberry. However, many noticed that an attempted high-five by Corbyn did not go quite to plan.
The high-five was then successfully recreated which you can watch by clicking here.
17) Tom Watson dabs in the House of Commons
During Prime Minsiter’s Questions back in February, deputy Labour leader Tom Watson decided to dab after Corbyn made a point about saving the NHS. Afterwards, Watson claimed that his dab was “inadvertent” as he had been dabbing with his kids over the holidays. It’s still not as cringy as Hillary Clinton dabbing, right?
16) Philip Hammond – “There are no unemployed people”
If you thought Diane Abbott’s misjudgement about police figures was bad…
There are in fact 1.4 million unemployed people.
Back in May, President Trump left the entire world confused when he tweeted the following sentence:
“Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”
People tried to work out what on Earth “covfefe” meant and the results were hilarious.
The original tweet was deleted 6 hours later and corrected. Technically the President is not allowed to “withhold public information” under The Presidential Records Act of 1978, and this can include tweets now.
13) UKIP leader declares “I could strangle a badger with my bare hands”
UKIP leader Henry Bolton (don’t worry, I don’t know who he is either) says that he could kill a badger with his bare hands.
12) Melania Trump body double conspiracy theory
Yep. Some people really believed that Melania Trump was replaced by a body double.
11) Trump Plagiarises Batman Villain Bane
Yes it was unintentional, but it’s still quite funny. But to be honest, that entire inaugural speech felt like something Bane would say.
10) Trump calls Kim Jong-un “short and fat”
In perhaps his most outrageous tweet since becoming President, Trump continued to display the public tension between him and the North Korean leader by tweeting:
9) The Rise of Jacob Rees-Mogg
Continuing the trend of the political underdog, an unlikely Conservative MP gained popularity this year. Despite his controversial views on abortion and same-sex marriage, Jacob Rees-Mogg has gained popular support amongst Tory members. From correcting Channel 4’s Jon Snow on the definition of a “slaughterhouse”, to the formation of ‘Moggmentum’ (to rival Corbyn-supporting group, Momentum.) Even the winner of I’m A Celebrity, Georgia Toffolo, described him as a “sex God.” Rees-Mogg responded to this by tweeting that she “should have gone to Specsavers.”
And of course, there’s always one who took it too far…
8) Boris Johnson recites Kipling in Myanmar Temple
As always, 2017 has been full of BoJo gaffes, including calling Jeremy Corbyn a “mugwump” (which is actually used to describe someone who is loyal to their political party.) But his most embarrassing and controversial mistake of the year involves the UK ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Patrick, forcing Johnson to stop reciting Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Road to Mandalay” at one of the most sacred Buddhist sites. The poem is about a retired serviceman reflecting on his colonial service – something which Johnson should probably not be reminding the people of Myanmar of.
7) Lord Buckethead and Mr Fish Finger
The 2017 election was full of plenty of bizarre candidates. For example, Mr. Fish Finger ran against Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron after an online petition became popular (“can this fish finger gain more likes than Tim Farron?”) and won 300 votes!
Similarly, Lord Buckethead ran against Theresa May and also won 300 votes. Elmo showed up in that constituency as well, but sadly only got 3 votes.
6) Theresa May mistakenly congratulates Corbyn on the birth of his granddaughter
Laughter could be heard on both sides of the chamber as Theresa May congratulates Jeremy Corbyn on the birth of his granddaughter, only to find that this was untrue.
Of course, she blamed her advisers
5) Fields of Wheat
Who could forget that bizarre interview when Theresa May was asked what was the naughtiest thing she ever did? Her answer, “running through the fields of wheat”, inspired many memes and encouraged Alex Salmond to upload a photo of himself standing in a field of wheat with the caption “feeling naughty.” Many farmers were furious to report that many of their crops had been damaged after people had ran through their fields imitating Theresa May. This was just one of many awkward interviews for Theresa May in the run-up to the election campaign.
4) Grime 4 Corbyn
Corbyn inspired a whole generation of young people to vote at the election in June, including many who had never been engaged in politics before. Major Grime artists including Stormzy and Jme encouraged young people to vote for Corbyn which predictably inspired many memes including a Corbyn version of Stormzy’s “Shut Up” (see below) and Corbyn appearing as a ‘current member’ of Grime group “Boy Better Know” on Wikipedia. Corbyn even presented Stormzy with his Best Solo Artist award at the GQ awards in September.
3) Greg Knight
The East Yorkshire Conservative MP rose to fame this year with this unorthodox Alan Partridge-esque method of campaigning. Whatever you may think of the song, it worked, and Knight was re-elected to his seat in June.
2) Theresa May’s Disastrous Conference Speech
When I saw this over Twitter I had to check that this really happened. I simply couldn’t believe that Theresa May was actually handed a P45 halfway through her conference speech. The prankster, who it was later revealed was Lee Nelson, handed her the P45 whilst saying “Boris told me to give this to you.” He then approached Boris Johnson, giving him a thumbs up, before being escorted out of the conference room.
Everything seemed to go wrong for Theresa May in her speech. In addition to the P45, she introduced policies that the Tories had mocked Labour for in the past, entered a coughing fit so had to be given throat lozenges whilst in the middle of talking, and some of the letters fell off the display behind her.
Armando Iannucci (the creator of Alan Partridge and director of The Death of Stalin) said that Theresa May’s speech was so surreal that it would be deemed as simply too unrealistic to appear on his political sitcom, The Thick of It.
1) “Ohhhh Jeremy Corbyn”
It had to be. I found it impossible to go to anywhere on a night out, post-June this year, without hearing someone chanting it. From surprising everyone by making gains at the election in June, to appearing on the front page of GQ in November, this really has been Corbyn’s year. I had the pleasure of attending two Corbyn events this year – the first was a rally on the beach at Southport in August, and another was the North-West regional Labour conference in early November when Corbyn actually came and personally spoke to the group I was with. It has to be said: I’ve never known a British politician in my lifetime to have such a positive widespread following in the same way as Corbyn has.
We should celebrate the fact that so many young people turned out this year to vote. We are the future of this country, and if we emulate the same levels of enthusiasm in the next election that we had in the last, then our future is looking very bright indeed.
This year has been another political rollercoaster and I know that 2018 won’t be any different. Do you agree with my list? What moments have I missed out that you would have included?