Diary: Ministers in a tangle over their own buck-passing logic


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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown, the euro, the weather, the unions, and now Will and Kate – the list of people to blame for the economic mess we are in just gets longer.

The royal couple were a surprise addition to what Ed Miliband calls the ABC (Anyone But Cameron) list, chucked in during a press conference yesterday by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, who wanted publicity for their guesstimate that next week's one day strike by public employees will cost the economy £500m.

That itself sounded anomalous, when we have heard it said so often that the public sector does not produce wealth, it only consumes wealth produced by others. By that logic, you would think that the economy would grow on a day when the public sector is out of action. But, as the ministers rightly pointed out, the disruption of public services, especially the schools, has a knock-on effect, because people cannot work to full capacity if they have to cope with problems like baby sitting school-age children.

This prompted my Independent colleague Oliver Wright to ask whether that implied that the royal wedding had also disrupted production, since schools closed for the day, to which Mr Maude, caught in his own logic, could only answer "yeah".

An unimaginable imagination


Max Mosley had his chance yesterday to respond to what the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, said about him three years ago. "What Dacre said in his speech to the Society of Editors was that I was guilty of 'unimaginable depravity'," he told the Leveson Inquiry. "I would say it reflects badly on his imagination."

A pedant might add that what Max Mosley got up to in that basement was definitely "imaginable". In fact, it was vividly imagined a century and a half ago by the novelist Leopold von Sacher Masoch.

Millions cut, over a fine supper


The Brent and Kilburn Times reveals how in these austere times, Labour councillors and senior officers from Brent Council, in north London, met at Wembley Plaza hotel to discuss cutting millions from the council budget – and spent £520 on supper.

The downside of aristocracy


Being an aristocrat is less fun than it used to be. The mental world of the mega-rich James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, the man who led the charge of the Light Brigade, and after whom a no longer fashionable garment is named, was described thus by the historian Cecil Woodham-Smith: "No rude voice contradicted him, no rough shoulder pushed him. From his earliest consciousness, he was the most important, the most interesting, the most influential person in the world."

Alas, his heir, David Brudenell-Bruce, the 15th Earl, has returned from five years in the US to find that the ancestral home, Savernake Lodge, in Wiltshire, has "rainwater coming in through the roof in three different places, including into the bedroom and bathroom" and "most of the gutters and downpipes blocked and full of growing grass" and "no hot water in 95 per cent of the house, including the kitchen". He is suing the trustees for not looking after the place while he was away.