Diary: As Churchill might say, they have nothing to offer...
Monday 04 April 2011
At times of national crisis, it is obligatory to turn to Churchill for inspiration. So to Chris Huhne and Baroness Warsi, I say this: if Winston and Lord Halifax could resolve the small matter of which of them would succeed Chamberlain in 1940 over a civil cup of cha, why can't you two behave yourselves over AV?
Chris accuses her ladyship of running "a Goebbels-like campaign" against AV by claiming it would be a boon for the BNP. If it's a subtle and gloriously original debating tactic to invoke the Nazis, Lady W makes a fantastically clever argument herself, with Nick Griffin virulently opposing AV.
In a bid to build bridges I remind the pair that, as far as campaigning and debating techniques go, more unites than divides them. During the last Lib Dem leadership election, Nick Clegg complained that Chris was "indulging in the politics of innuendo" by issuing a briefing dossier headlined "Calamity Clegg" – of which Chris claimed to know nothing despite its author being the lover for whom he would later leave his wife.
As a parliamentary candidate in 2005, meanwhile, the Baroness put her name to leaflets claiming that Labour's lowering of the age of consent was causing homosexuality to be peddled as a lifestyle choice to seven-year-old schoolchildren. Peas in a pod, these two geniuses, when it comes to the imbecile campaign smear. But then, as Milibandroid scholars will confirm, the similarities are so much more divisive than the differences.
* If the reshuffle goes badly for Lady Warsi and she decides to try her luck across the Atlantic, fingers crossed that Herman Cain doesn't win the White House. Wannabe Republican nominee Mr Cain, a pizza chain owner and radio talk show host, threw down the gauntlet to rival wingnuts last week by declaring that he would not, as president, allow any Muslim to serve in his cabinet. We look forward to Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and the others picking it up forthwith.
* Now I don't much care for Chris Huhne, but I'm not wild about Lady Warsi either. But who is worse? Ordinarily there'd be only one way to find out, but since Harry Hill isn't around to stage the fight, we turn to Norman Tebbit instead. As a participant in the last great inter-cabinet scrap between a noble and a commoner, when on 1997's "Wobbly Thursday" Lord Young grabbed him by the lapels and screamed, "We are about to lose this fucking election", it falls to Norman to adjudicate between them on his genuinely brilliant political blog. We know he prefers Clegg to Cameron, but his silence on Huhne vs Warsi threatens to shatter the eardrum. Where have you gone, stormin' Normio? A lonely nation turns its eyes to you.
* Meanwhile, Douglas Hurd lobs in his AV twopennorth by warning of the system's incomprehensible complexity. Small wonder he's in a shocking state. Counting up to five isn't easy, even for a chap who won a scholarship to Eton – something he liked to remind us about when challenging for the leadership in 1990, after Mrs Thatcher was removed by a system of such glorious simplicity that she won with a clear majority and had to go. Douglas understood that perfectly well at the time. What on earth's happened to him?
* I am saddened to read that new Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt is jettisoning those captivating list shows that have electrified Saturday and Sunday nights. What weekends will be like without Kate Thornton misunderstanding lyrics from songs released long before she was born doesn't bear contemplating. The final edition – working title: Top 100 Flogged Dead Horse TV Formats Featuring Loads Of People You Kinda Half Recognise But Don't Wish To Hear From On This Or Anything Else – is scheduled for the autumn.
* Regarding Moussa Koussa, I mostly blame the parents. The terror chief turned asylum-seeker can't be wholly exonerated, since he could have ditched the silly name. Would Duncan Jones be a feted film-maker had he meekly stuck with Zowie Bowie? But the parents take the lion's share of responsibility. "If your surname's Dumpty," as Ricky Gervais put it in his Politics show, "don't call your first born Humpty".
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