Having seen our panic over the political dysfunction in the United States give way to the grim developments in our own country this week, it is time to briefly gaze east, at another political storm brewing in the UK.
There's a by-election coming up in Stoke-on-Trent, taking place on February 23rd. It is contested by Labour's Gareth Snell, Conservative Jack Brereton, and Paul Nuttall, the leader of UKIP.
(Fans of stand-up comic Stewart Lee will know the latter as Paul Nuttalls of the UKIPS).
Nuttall is a native of Liverpool, and the added scrutiny of the election has not done him much good. In December, Nuttall blamed a press officer for a 'fake CV' which circulated under his name, claiming that he had completed a PhD and played professional football for Tranmere Rovers.
Today, a further, awful detail emerged. Speaking to Radio City of Liverpool, Nuttall was forced to admit that the claim on his website that he had lost a "close personal friend" in the Hillsborough tragedy was not true. A blog post on his site dated January, 2012 claimed that Nuttall had lost a "close personal friend" in the tragedy, but in an awkward exchange on air today, he said that the claim was untrue.
I’m sorry about that, but that is something … I haven’t put that out. That is wrong.
Nuttall has also been challenged on the veracity of his claim that he was present at the disaster, and was among the Liverpool fans crushed in the Leppings Lane end. Nuttall has offered a fierce rebuttal to those challenging his claims. He said yesterday that those claims were a smear campaign, orchestrated by the Labour party:
I feel bloody angry, angrier than I’ve ever been and I thought I had seen everything in politics.
I know it’s a dirty game, but this is beyond scraping the barrel to be perfectly honest with you. It’s upset me personally, it’s upset my family.
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall admits that claims on his website that he lost a "close personal friend" at Hillsborough are false pic.twitter.com/bnNKm29IsU
— Radio City Talk (@RadioCityTalk) February 14, 2017
Didi Hamann tweeted his dismay:
Takes attention seeking to a different level. Sickening https://t.co/JZW0wOB43T
— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) February 14, 2017