Much of the comment on the last weekend's BBC politics output has rightly focused on the 'Calamitygate' story surrounding the Chris Huhne's bid for the leadership leadership for that eternal political calamity, the Liberal Democrat party.
I would have to admit to enjoying the acrimonious exchanges; real Punch and Judy stuff from the party that thinks we are all stupid enough to believe their baseless assertions that they are above that kind of thing. If anything, it actually fell short of the level of intellectual warfare to count as Punch and Judy politics, being more like a scrap between two five year olds watching the show at a seaside stall, which, after all, could be said to be a metaphor fore the role of the Lib Dems in UK National politics more generally. No more Mr Nice Party then. Good, they never really were; no worse than the other two main parties certainly, but not the morally superior force they manage to hoodwink the gullible into believing them to be.
My eye, or rather ear lest I thought to be a very sick puppy, was more taken by the appearance of the ever strange Ruth Kelly with Andrew Marr earlier in the day and what she had to say, or rather not say about plans for airport style security at major railway stations. It was only a few days since I posted my thoughts, for what they are worth, on this ridiculous plan and from the obvious downgrading by of the scheme by Kelly from a headline initiative to an 'option not to be ruled out' it would appear that the government may finally have thought through the implications of the scheme too.
This type of oft repeated story, especially under the current government, leaves the likes of myself, who has never worked inside the political bubble, scratching my head about how such daft ideas ever come to see the light of the day in the first place.
Ignorant of any real insight of the process I am forced to speculate that it must run something like this, with the only known facts highlighted in bold:
- Policy announcement - 3 days: Weekend of media criticism of visionless government
- P - 2 days: PM summons meeting of top secret eye watering initiative team at Number 10, memo sent to all cabinet ministers demanding ideas. Lists of remaining civil liberties that can be dispensed with and things that could be banned circulated.
- P - 1 day:
CabinetPM selects least stupid idea from unknown minister, who is informed that it was the PM's idea.
- P day: PM delivers weak speech to House of Commons to announce his idea and is derided by opposition MPs who suspect the policy is unmitigated crap.
- P + 5 minutes: All intelligent life outside the Labour party realise that the policy is indeed crap.
- P + 1 day: Print media splash lurid headlines about PM's bold initiative, some though already comment on inside pages on the fact that the policy is crap.
- P + 2 days: Even slower elements of the media realise that the policy is crap, as do more sophisticated Labour MPs without ministerial sinecure.
- P + 3 days: PM informed that the policy is in fact crap and angrily summons the overworked Labour crap policy disposal team.
- P + 4 days: Expendable minister dispatched to non-announce the strategic non-advancement of a policy, in place of the Home Secretary whose political health was too weak to allow her to deal with what was fundamentally a Home Office issue.
- P + 5 days: PM slinks off back into hiding ahead of what he, unlike Parliament, already knows will be a week of disastrous news for his disintegrating government. Next eye catching initiative placed in production, illiberal line failed, so try banning something next time....plastic bags?