On the last day of the Olympics, the day of the handover to London, the Liberal Democrats sought to make a news story out of some stock Visit London video footage. This video footage included a brief glimpse of a notorious "modern art" work in an art gallery.
The Liberal Democrat ploy here was entirely artifical. The video footage was of dozens of scenes in London, including the art gallery, and the glimpse was of an art work, not of the subject. The video had been used for years without complaint.
(The art work in question, by Marcus Harvey, is itself of rather bad taste. It is of Myra Hindley, who tortured and killed several children. I wouldn't want to ban it, though I wouldn't want to see it either. It hung (and may well still hang) in a posh London art gallery.)
The BBC then fell for this "news story" completely, see here, even sending out an email news alert. Such news alerts are usually reserved for important deaths or the results of elections and major trials.
The news email said simply "The Liberal Democrats criticise the use of a portrait of murderer Myra Hindley in a video shown at a London 2012 event in Beijing".
(So it appears the initiative came from the Liberal Democrats, but even if not, they capitialised on it with all the PR savvy they could muster.)
No doubt the BBC news team thought that if they rushed the "news story" out it could have some desired anti-Boris effect. As it was, Boris commented wisely (when he shouldn't have to needed to comment at all), and - tellingly - the story then quickly slid down the BBC news site. One would never have thought it had been a "news story" worthy of an email news alert an hour or two before.
It was, in fact, a completely invented non-story, a mild example of what Nick Davies has called "Flat Earth News".
The Hindley image is powerful. It really should not be used by the Liberal Democrats for any cynical political purpose. Indeed it was, in my opinion, a disgusting ploy for them to do so. Disgust is a strong word, but think for one moment about the ultimate atrocious circumstances which give the power to that image.
And it is sad, but predictable, that the BBC news team tried to give the story such a boost on such a day.
But I will go further.
The video footage merely contained a brief glimpse of an art work in a London gallery. There was actually nothing wrong with featuring it at all.
It is a Good Thing that such "modern art" can be seen in this country, even if one thinks the stuff is in extremely bad taste (and poor quality), and such liberal and democratic freedoms should be celebrated.
Even by Liberal Democrats.