Friday 18 December 2009

Stirring stick ready

I was chatting to someone closely connected to a Labour MP earlier who'd not realised I wrote Lobbydog but confessed to having it in their favourites.

I invited them to leave a comment next time they visited, saying that Lobbydog was meant to encourage debate.

They said: "Really? I thought he was just a sh*t-stirring little dog."

  • Sh*t stir: (verb), To cause commotion by poking fun or revealing information to get a reaction.

Probably not too far off the mark, I replied. But I can only stir the faeces that is already in the bucket.

Now I'm really looking forward to the election.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Harman's garbble

I thought it might be interesting to actually write out this answer given by Harriet Harman at PMQs to a question about Lord Ashcroft.

“We certainly do need transparency on this issue and as I’ve said we will bring forward legislation – while he’s busy commending the Conservative party, I would like to, at the risk of being partisan, complain about the Conservative party, because their deputy chair of the Conservative party promised, and this pertains to legislation, this pertains to the need for legislation, their own deputy chair of the Conservative party made a promise to the Honours Committee that he would make his tax affairs on shore. And the Foreign Secretary, er, the shadow foreign secretary, the shadow foreign secretary, can tell us what the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury says he knows…”

What? That was also what Speaker Bercow must have thought before he impatiently cut her off in mid-sentence.

Lord Adonis misquotes

I always thought Lord Adonis didn’t have much of the Machiavelli about him.

He seems a little more principled than most senior politicians and a little more interested in his ministerial brief than his career.

Last night while giving a speech on trains he said: “I think it was Sir Thomas More who said treason is just a matter of dates.”

Actually it wasn’t. Sir Thomas More was beheaded in 1535 after refusing out of principle to sign the Act of Supremacy, which enshrined England’s split from the Catholic Church.

The line Adonis quoted was actually made by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-PĂ©rigord.

Known simply as Talleyrand, he was a diplomat and politician so versatile that he managed to work under the King of France, for leaders during the French Revolution and for Napoleon.

I wonder whether Adonis will be a More who dies for his principles or a Talleyrand who lives for his work.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Down in flames...

Bob Ainsworth gargled his way through his defence statement just now in the Commons.

With an air force base closing and a reduction in the Harrier and Tornado jet forces, I’ve no doubt papers will present it as a downgrading of the RAF in the morning.

Bob said the cuts were needed to boost support to the forces in Afghanistan.

But putting aside the fact that our forces have been under-funded – not because it’s insignificant, because it’s taken and everyone else will be discussing it – the role of the RAF has been in question for some time.

Defence minds I’ve consulted on both sides of the House have said the RAF’s time is coming to an end.

Rather than having a dedicated air force in the future, a more likely and affordable scenario, they say, is to have beefed up air capabilities in both the army and navy.

No one is prepared to say that in public of course, because who would want to cut back on Winston Churchill’s brave “few”.

I fear, however, that this is another step along the road to that end.