The Silly Season. Yes, that time of the year when news is hard to get and the whole country apparently shuts down and nothing of note ever seems to happen. The PM is on his annual holiday with his family, Westminster is on recess and the schools are on vacation. The closest you get to anything newsworthy is the weather forecasts and news anchors bored out of their brains staring at their autocues for anything worth sharing.
But does nothing worth reporting by news organisations ever happen in sweltering August? We look at some news events that have shattered this myth in recent years. August can indeed be the month of earth-shattering revelations and significant breaking news bulletins.
August 2015: Perhaps the breaking story of the summer of 2015 has been the influx of migrants into Europe from Africa and the hot spots of the Middle East. It has sparked several COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) emergency meetings as determined migrants make nightly attempts to cross from the French port of Calais into the United Kingdom. The PM has had to interrupt his holiday to make statements on the ongoing human crisis.
6 August 2011: The August riots was triggered by the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. The ensuing conflagration quickly engulfed inner city London spreading west and south across the city. Mayor Boris Johnson endured jeers and boos after arriving belatedly to inspect the damage. The prime minister also cut short his summer holidays to address the nation in front of Downing Street and parliament was recalled for a special session.
Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
31 August 2001: The death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a Paris underpass brought the country to its knees in unprecedented mourning as the Press Association ‘snap’ press release winged its way across newsrooms in Britain. Prime Minister Tony Blair called her the People’s Princess and the Queen was forced to break her silence and address the nation. Flags across the land were flown at half-mast and crowds mourned in the streets as her brother, Earl Spencer delivered one of the country’s most poignant eulogies to date. He lamented: “It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this – a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.”