Another lovely morning. But several of us are somewhat frazzled. Given the sudden evidence that the sun still exists, we plan to head off to the land of our fathers for what our dear leader would doubtless call a chill-out. The problem is that before we go we have to do in one day what we would normally spread over several. Those left behind will feed our unruly hens, but can hardly be expected to disinfect, dig trenches or get in supplies. One of the countless psychologists that earn their crusts via magazine articles should add PHT to their repertoire. Pre Holiday Tension would be a perfect subject. The solution? Don’t go!
But at least we not as near tipping point as our dear leader. Yesterday he was obliged by the Speaker to retract his accusation that Ed Balls is an idiot. It did seem slightly unjust given that the coalition is about to switch from austerity to growth as its economic strategy, something Brother Balls has been advocating from the start. Even Baldrick would by now have realised that simply screwing everyone, and everything, into the ground will only lead to ruin. But the Posh Boys have taken quite a while to cotton on.
Now of course they will claim that two-year’s austerity followed by two years of growth was Plan A. Such is the world of politics in which few things are ever decided, and no one accepts that he or she may just have got it wrong. Yesterday the Leveson Inquiry lifted the curtain a little.
Lord Leveson is beginning to sound somewhat concerned at the task facing him. “Why do I see this all coming back to hit me?”, he asked yesterday of no one in particular. Jeremy Paxman was there, and probably depressed the learned Judge further by remarking that “your challenge is to stop yourself becoming a total relevance”. Andrew Marr didn’t offer cheer either. Asked what he saw as the answer to press regulation, he said his role would merely be “to criticise the inquiry for whatever it comes up with”. But one visitor did shed some light, albeit not on the press.
Stephen Dorrell rolled up. Remember him? He was national heritage minister under John Major, and in that role was asked to draft the government response to the report on press regulation by Sir David Calcutt. Dorrell recalled that he used the “traditional method for responding to politically difficult issues. He presented a do-nothing option. This apparently involves three choices.
The first is to simply ignore it, a strategy, Mr Dorrell said “which has worked surprisingly well on many occasions”. The second is to “announce that the government will do absolutely nothing”, but this has its “pitfalls”. The third is to promise “to look at legislation when parliamentary time permits”. Meaning never?, asked his Lordship. Dorrell smiled patiently. “We always had to present our conclusion that we were going to do nothing in the least bad way”, he said.
So now we know! It is rather like discovering the De Vinci code, we can now interpret the various seemingly odd assurances that pour forth from our dear leader. Yesterday he was obliged to tell the House that he has no intention of conceding the right of prisoners to the vote. He had to say this given that masses of his backbenchers demand war with the European Court, which has set a 6-month deadline for at least some action. But the dear leader has no intention of offending his Lib Dem lapdogs by actually refusing to act.
The word is that in about five months time he will announce that some concessions will be considered as and when parliamentary time permits. Some call it the long grass, the overly frank Mr Dorrell has interpreted that!