TOM Watson’s latest Twitter reports that a banner displayed by a protester in Parliament Square carries the legend: “Obama imperialist war monger”.
I mean, just how pathetic can these people be? As Carolyn was channel hopping this evening she came across Celebrity Big Brother (see what lengths I’ll go to to make sure you don’t think I’m actually watching it?) and even Tommy “the trot” Sheridan was applauding Obama at the end of his inaugural speech.
But anti-Americanism runs deep in the so-called left wing in this country. In 1980 and 1981 I was an active member of CND, three years before I joined the Labour Party. I attended a number of meetings at which President Reagan was regularly attacked and vilified and where the Soviet Union was portrayed as an innocent victim of the Cold War.
Clearly, for some, the Cold War never ended. Or even worse: the wrong side won.
A RULE about reshuffles is that, whether in government or in opposition, they tend to be initially welcomed by the media. If doubts emerge, it is only in the aftermath, 24-48 hours later.
So the Tories have done well so far to dominate the political headlines on the day a second tranche of cash is to be shoveled into the black hole that is our banking system. And there are some interesting and intelligent moves: Grayling has done well in both his recent positions – transport and DWP – and it will be intersting to see how effective his rottweiller approach will be at Home Affairs.
Theresa May will probably be glad to have her second stint as Shadow Leader of the House finally end. Alan Duncan will enjoy his weekly jousts with Harriet Harman during Business Questios on Thursday mornings. As Coffee House rightly says this afternoon, Dominic Grieve should probably not have been given Shadow Home Secretary last summer when David Davis resigned, and he may well be more suited to Shadow Justice Secretary.
Two negative points, though: I share the disappointment of the business community and a sizeable number of Tory MPs that Cameron has not shifted Theresa Villiers out of transport (though I accept that would have been difficult following a week when he gave her such unambiguous support in her campaign against economic growth Heathrow’s third runway).
And then there’s the DD question. Having accepted the argument for bringing back at least one of the so-called Big Beasts, what is Cameron’s reason for not bringing back David Davis, especially after his tacit admission today that DD’s replacement has not performed well?
Having won the argument for Clarke’s return, DD’s supporters are unlikely to allow the prospect of his eventual return to the front bench disappear from the headlines or from Tory blogs.
THE BBC website doesn’t appear to have it yet, but Iain Dale does: Ken Clarke is returning to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Business Secretary.
This is a very clever move by Cameron; KC is undoubtedly the biggest of the Big Beasts. He’s still (I assume) popular among the electorate and has that priceless quality for a politician: he comes across as an ordinary bloke. He speaks Human and doesn’t sound – has never sounded – like a political “Speak Your Weight” machine.
And try as I might, I can’t actually come up with a plausible reason for criticism. Damn, hate it when that happens.
THERE’S nothing the Liberals love better than to pretend playing kingmaker in the run-up to general elections.
James Forsyth over at The Spectator Coffee House has picked up on comments by Vince Cable to the effect that the Liberals will only do a deal with the “moral victor” at the election; and interestingly he defines “moral victory” not as winning the highest number of votes, but winning the largest number of seats in the Commons.
Isn’t that an odd definition from a leading Liberal? I would have thought that their blind, religious devotion to proportional representation would have obliged them to count votes before seats.
I hasten to add that I’m not anticipating a hung parliament (nor a Tory victory, before you ask). But if we have the disaster of a hung parliament inflicted upon us, frankly I don’t mind if any MP of whichever party wishes subsequently to vote to implement a Labour manifesto. However, if the Liberals reckon they can persuade either the Tories or Labour to concede the scrapping of first-past-the-post, they have another think coming.
Whatever the result of the next election, I’m certain there will still be a clear majority in support of the current electoral system. And very few of us would consider sacrificing it for the very dubious privilege of making the Liberals a permanent partner in a coalition government for the rest of time.
So Vince and his pals should perhaps spend a little less time looking through the ministerial Toyota Prius catalogue and more time campaigning to hold on to the seats they already have.
INTRIGUING rumours at Westminster – despite the House not returning until next week.
I’m reliably informed that the recent vocal campaign to have Ken Clarke reinstated to the Shadow Cabinet is but a feint, a ruse to disguise the true intent of KC’s apparent supporters: to bring back David Davis.
The former Shadow Home Secretary is considered one of the so-called “Tory Big Beasts” whose presence is sorely missed on Cameron’s front bench. With end-of-year polls showing a severe narrowing of the Tory lead, there is much complaining in the tearoom (or will be when it reopens for business next Monday) that, given the economic circumstances, Do-Nothing should be much further ahead than he is. Hence the increasingly voluble demands for DD’s return.
I suspect DD’s supporters, though, are being unrealistically optimistic: I can’t see Do-Nothing caving into this pressure in the same way he caved in over the Shadow Cabinet’s day jobs. He can’t afford another high profile defeat at the hands of his own party.
THE five Church of England bishops who have attacked Labour as “immoral” should not be dismissed out of hand.
After all, these giants of Christian leadership are the very people who have presided over a colossal rise in church membership and attendance. Such has been their inspiration to the nation, few people fail to consult them on great matters of import before coming to a conclusion.
So when these Five Wise Men choose to ignore the work of this government in combating poverty in the Third World, we have to assume they have good reason to do so (perhaps involvement in such causes might detract from their party political work?).
When they ignore the tax credit system, the historically large increases in child benefit, the minimum wage or pensioners’ winter heating allowances, we must assume that the Five Wise Men have prayed long and hard to seek Divine Inspiration for their pronouncement and that God agrees with them.
And when they, by implication, dismiss the record investment in the NHS under this government, we should perhaps ask if the Church of England’s runs a Bupa membership scheme for its clergy.
More than all of this, we should remember that the description of the Church of England as “the Tory Party at prayer” was never more true than when there is a Labour government.
I HAD intended to write (and in fact had finished writing a piece) blasting senior Tories for creating a situation where it was felt justifiable to leak or to publish details of Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick’s home address. Quick is in charge of the police investigation into Tory MP Damian Green.
Indeed, the cynical bullying of the police by David Cameron and Dominic Grieve is something I have previously warned against.
However, within seconds of publishing my diatribe – based entirely on the BBC website story – Carolyn told me she had heard a radio report suggesting he had withdrawn his criticism of the Tory Party. So the status of my original post was quickly converted from “published” to “draft”.
AC Quick claimed that the publishing of his home address and the bullying of his officers – including, I presume, the prejudgment of the enquiry – were somehow linked. Yet according to the Mail on Sunday, Quick’s home address was included in an advertisement for the wedding car hire firm run from his home.
Most visitors to this site know my view: that prejudgment of the inquiry, the assumption that Damian was arrested simply for carrying out his duties as an MP, is premature and, until we know the police’s conclusions, unjustified.
Yet this latest episode has hardly cleared the water – just made a complicated and controversial story even more so, on both counts.