Andy McSmith's Diary: ‘Prophylactic’ Nick Clegg is no protection against Boris Johnson


Nick Clegg is David Cameron’s condom, according to the latest insult directed at the Deputy Prime Minister by London’s irrepressible Mayor, Boris Johnson.

His contraceptive duties are not set out in the Coalition Agreement, but apparently they consist of protecting David Cameron’s premiership from becoming pregnant with the kind of policies that only the Tory right would want to bring into the world.

“He’s there to fulfil a very important ceremonial function as David Cameron’s kind of lapdog-cum-prophylactic protection device for all the difficult things that David Cameron has to do. He’s a kind of shield. He’s a lapdog who’s been skinned and turned into a shield to protect,” the Mayor told the radio station LBC.

His remarks suggest that Mr Johnson does not entirely believe the claim Mr Cameron once made that he has a “black book” of authentic Conservative policies he would like to have implemented if only the Liberal Democrats had let him. It implies that he had chosen to wear Nick Clegg to avoid fathering unwanted policies. If Mr Johnson were Prime Minister, we are invited to conclude, there would be no rubberised policy-making.

The Mayor and the Deputy Prime Minister have a regular slot each on LBC, and have used them before to trade insults. Last June, Nick Clegg, who has a weekly phone-in, told listeners: “I’m going to call him Slacker Johnson. He’s only on once a month.” Mr Johnson retorted that Mr Clegg was an “idle bum” with spare time in his “ceremonial role as Lib Dem leader”.

This time, the Mayor began by claiming, with blatant insincerity: “I don’t want to get into some sort of endless ding-dong with poor old Cleggers,” before issuing the latest insult. And on Mr Clegg’s 47th birthday too...

Married to a mantra

The reason politicians repeat key phrases with brain-deadening regularity is that they assume that almost all of the electorate are not listening almost all the time. But outspoken Labour MP Simon Danczuk thinks it’s high time to shelve the practice.

“We’ve already been told, from the very top, to intertwine ‘One Nation’ into every policy statement we make,” he complained in PR Week. “I’ve come to believe the public is actively turned off by the torturous repetition of political mantras.”

He has called on his colleagues to strive for “authenticity”, even at the risk of going off-message – advice that was rather lost on a Labour spokesman, who said: “We believe in Britain being a country where everyone plays their part and we’ll continue to make the argument for One Nation Labour.”

Peace in our time

For a short period today, the microphones in the House of Commons went kaput, and it became almost impossible to hear what Cabinet Office minister Greg Clark was saying. It made observers up in the gallery wonder how they coped in the old days, before microphones. 

When microphones first appeared in 1950, Winston Churchill insisted they be turned down when he delivered a speech in June 1950. Suddenly, the famous voice was too quiet for the listeners in the gallery overhead. There was a protest to the Speaker, and Churchill apologised.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral