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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory