By Joe Audritt
The business of Politics is easily understood when you understand the business of Professional Wrestling. In this series, The Pro-Wrestling of Politics, we take a look at the culture, business and lexicon of professional wrestling and how it applies to modern politics.
Spots & Botches
We all know by now that the action in and around the wrestling ring is scripted and choreographed. The show is a collection of predetermined ‘spots’, planned backstage and executed by professionals to the enthusiasms of a crowd, from the microphone work on stage, to the body slams in the ring.
A perfectly executed spot may be the demonic Undertaker snatching the baby oiled, baby faced John Cena by the throat, hoisting him high in the air as Cena shines like a disco ball eight feet in the air before being slammed down to the mat.
If the Undertaker were to lose his grip on the greasy John Cena, before being able to complete his choke slam this would make the, usually infallible Undertaker, look like an incompetent wrestling fool. This is what is known as a botch.
A politician’s spots are not nearly as physical, but they are equally staged or worked and prone to the occasional botch. While a political botch may, sadly, not cause an injury as they often do in wrestling they are still embarrassing displays of incompetence.
A common spot for a politician is to deliver a pre-written speech (or ‘promo’ in wrestling) behind a podium to an audience for the purpose of furthering their political message.
In 2015, then Prime Minster, David Cameron, performed such a spot to a London audience singing the virtues of multiculturalism. A spot he notoriously botched when he appeared to forget that he supported the English football team Aston Villa: ‘In Britain you can support Man Utd, the West Indies and Team GB all at the same time – of course I’d rather you supported West Ham.’
Spots for politicians can be more elaborate than simply delivering a promo behind a podium or as a talking head on the news, and any subsequent botches more damaging.
In 2016, The British Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, devised a spot to further his cause for state ownership of the railways. Corbyn boarded a Virgin train from London King’s Cross to Newcastle and was filmed by a freelance journalist sitting on the floor during the journey.
He explained to camera that the train was ‘ram-packed’, that there was not enough trains, and the journeys too expensive. This, he suggested, was a good case for public ownership.
The botch was not immediately apparent, the video receiving a lot of attention and strengthened Corbyn’s imagine as a man of the people, not beneath joining the working man on the floor of a packed train.
That was until Virgin released CCTV footage, two weeks later, of Corbyn on the train walking past empty seats before embarking on his now infamous ‘traingate’ spot to camera. CCTV footage also showed that after making the video he found an empty seat to sit in for the remainder of the journey.