Grant Woodward: Stop the news, I want to get off

Andrea Leadsom launches her bid for the Tory leadership. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Andrea Leadsom launches her bid for the Tory leadership. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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We’re on News Overload. There’s just too much of the ruddy stuff to know what to do with.

THIS is getting silly now. It’s July for heaven’s sake. Us journalists should be busy writing about skateboarding dogs and KFC drumsticks that bear an uncanny resemblance to Kim Kardashian.

Instead we’re on News Overload. There’s just too much of the ruddy stuff to know what to do with. It’s coming out of our ears.

It’s as if someone has taken their thumb out of the great big News Dyke and it’s suddenly sloshing down in torrents.

Let’s just take a deep breath and recap on what’s happened over the last week, shall we?

Britain voted to leave the EU, the pound plummeted, the Prime Minister resigned, Labour tried to chuck out their leader, Boris Johnson was going to run for Prime Minister and then wasn’t, Scotland said it was going to have another vote to leave the UK, Nigel Farage quit as Ukip leader (and this time insisted he meant it), the Tory leadership contest began and now a report into the Iraq War that was almost a decade in the making has finally been published.

That’s enough news for seven years for heaven’s sake, let alone seven days.

Newspaper vendors need to start giving away valium with every copy. News websites should include directions to the nearest darkened room so people can have a good lie down.

And do you know what I blame? The 21st century phenomenon that is 24-hour news.

It’s a well-known fact that nature abhors a vacuum. It runs contrary to the laws of physics. And this means something has to fill it.

So where politicians in the past would have given things a good mulling over before jumping ship, nowadays they can’t wait to announce it live on Sky News.

Chuck in the instant updates from social media and you’ve got yourself a runaway train. People are falling over themselves to say and do things that have literally just entered their heads.

I call it the Twenty20 Cricket Effect. Everything has speeded up to fit the format.

And you get the feeling that people really haven’t thought things through. That we’re living in the age of the knee-jerk reaction.

Let’s take the EU referendum for instance. David Cameron resigned because he was a Remainer and thought a Leaver should run the ship.

So who’s the front runner to take over as PM? Theresa May – who campaigned for us to stay in the EU.

And what about those who shouted loudest for Leave?

Boris Johnson isn’t standing after he was stabbed in the back by Michael Gove, who won’t win anyway.

The bloke who triggered the whole thing? He’s done a runner too. Nigel Farage says he “wants his life back”.

Thanks Nigel, thanks a lot.

And I’ve no idea where Andrea Leadsom has come from – but I’d bet good money on DNA samples scraped from Margaret Thatcher’s best handbag being involved at some stage of the process.

It’s a bit like when they took the blood from mosquitos trapped in amber to recreate the T Rex in Jurassic Park. It even comes complete with Mrs T’s trademark blue power suit. Leadsom, I mean, not the dinosaur.

All of this is just too much, too fast. It took me long enough to recover from the bloodletting after the last general election, the departures of Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, the break-up of the coalition government, the decimation of the Lib Dems and the incredible rise of Jeremy Corbyn.

That feels like it happened several years ago. It was last May.

What we need now is a bit of a lull, a let-up in this barrage of news so that we can get back to more trivial stuff.

England’s footballers tried to lift the mood with their hilariously slapstick defeat to Iceland but it was only a fleeting diversion.

And I’m afraid there’s still so much happening that this news storm is unlikely to stop any time soon. Best find that darkened room. Quick.

Tony Blair should now face trial

OUR first thoughts today should be with the families of those soldiers from West Yorkshire – and right across the country – who lost their lives in Iraq.

Our second thoughts should be on how to bring former Prime Minister Tony Blair to justice.

The Chilcot report stopped short of saying we went to war on a lie, but not by much. It made it clear the invasion was a done deal eight months before it happened, when Blair promised Bush he was with him ‘whatever’.

Then began the cynical plotting to lash together an excuse for war and to sell it to Parliament and the people.

The Chilcot report makes it clear the case for conflict was based on the flimsiest of evidence that simply wasn’t true. No wonder one and a half million people marched in protest.

Tony Blair rushed our servicemen and women to war without the equipment and resources they needed to keep them safe – 179 of them died.

The abject failure to plan for the war’s aftermath has cost the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Another 250 died just last weekend.

Tony Blair has blood on his hands. And how bitterly ironic that he now makes millions from advising despots after stealing husbands from wives and dads from their children to topple one when our country wasn’t under threat.

Yet the International Criminal Court is looking to use the Chilcot report to prosecute our troops rather than bring Tony Blair to justice. How despicable.

Speedo would be so proud of Wales

I’M writing this before Wales kick off their Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal, so you’ve got one up on me because you know the result.

But even if Bale and co didn’t wipe the smug grin off the face of modern day Narcissus Cristiano Ronaldo they’ve still done themselves and their country proud.

What a contrast to that shower wearing the Three Lions who lost to Iceland. Here are players who are fully committed to the team and are much more than the sum of their parts.

And the man who kicked it all off was Leeds United legend Gary Speed, who sparked the upturn in his nation’s footballing fortunes as Wales manager before his tragic death five years ago.

He moulded the team in his own image. Tenacious with strong leadership and a stubborn refusal to give up.

If he was looking down on his former charges over the last couple of weeks, you can bet Speedo would have been wearing a smile the size of Swansea.

Temple Mill, Marshall Street, Holbeck, Leeds.

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