Wednesday, May 02, 2012

May Surprises

Springing a surprise scandal in the dying moments of an election campaign is pretty standard practice - remember George Bush's DUI conviction? Usually, as that example suggests, these are pretty underwhelming things. This, from the Guardian, does a good job of lowering that bar. Here's the screamer:

Boris Johnson's campaign uses offices of firm that paid no tax for three years

Gosh eh? Nicely neutralising the stories surrounding the Guardian's favoured candidate's own tax, er, organisation. Except that, quietly tucked away in paragraph 14, you get this:

However, because Lycamobile reported losses, the firm has been tax-free.

So this scandalous story is, in full, "Company doesn't pay tax on the profits it isn't making". Which, as Guido points out, applies equally well to the Guardian itself. Try harder chaps.


Matthew Norman has a good old go at David Cameron here, in effect saying that without charm Cameron is nothing, and that Cameron has lost his charm. The hook for this observation is, inevitably, that Cameron was rude and dismissive to Dennis Skinner.

Dennis Skinner doesn't deserve the contempt of cocky whippersnappers who never did a proper day's work. He deserves the respect due to both his seniority and his background as one of nine children of a miner sacked after the General Strike of 1926, and a miner himself.

This is, candidly, bollocks. Skinner received precisely the degree of respect he deserves from David Cameron. Skinner is, clearly, considered a Labour party icon, if for nothing else then for sheer longevity (that promise to retire at 65 not having stuck, obviously). There's no reason for that sentiment to cross the floor. After all, as Jerry Hayes points out, that's the way Skinner plays the game.

If you want the real measure of the man let me recall a nasty little cameo role he played in one of the most dramatic and moving events I have ever witnessed in the Chamber. It was a few months after the Brighton bombing where friends and colleagues had died or had been horribly injured. John Wakeham lost his wife and at one time it was thought that he might never walk again. Unannounced, unplanned and in the middle of the debate, the doors swung open and there was Wakeham on crutches slowly and very painfully hobbling his way to the front bench. A silence befell the House. At times like these there is a bond that goes way beyond the pettiness of party politics. You could hear a pin drop and to a man and woman we rose in silence and respect and then applauded this man for his courage and terrible loss, mourning his wife and feeling for his motherless young children. The House was united in its grief except for one solitary, seated, glowering figure who wouldn’t stand; Skinner. After all, Wakeham was a Tory.

David Cameron was far too charitable.


As Jim Callaghan knew, the best way of ending a drought is to make it official. The ghost of Denis Howell has been hovering over these soggy islands over the past month or so. Regardless of whether or not this is the wrong sort of rain, there's something a touch absurd in the simultaneous contemplation of floods and standpipes.

It wasn't actually that sort of drought I was talking about though. Posts here have dried up to an alarming degree over the past few weeks. A gap in posting tends to be self-perpetuating - you feel that you can't just start again with the usual inconsequential blatherings. Why is there nothing on the budget? Or Jeremy Hunt? Or dire Tory polls? Have I just run away when the going got a bit stickier? Have I actually just run out of stuff to say after six years of wittering on about the same sort of thing?

Be that as it may, here we are again, and I do actually have some posts lined up. I do at least now have the advantage of being in something of a minority - a more-or-less convinced Cameroon, who thinks that this Government is getting far more right than it gets wrong, and is infinitely preferable to the alternative. As far as I can see that makes me, Danny Finkelstein and Bruce Anderson contra Mundum.