Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Dan Rogerson fails to fluff his day in the spotlight

 

In the theatre, as in politics, there are two kinds of understudy. Some become overnight stars by running away with the part when the leading actor is ill – Anthony Hopkins, Shirley MacLaine, Gordon Brown standing in as shadow Chancellor for John Smith. Others win the audience’s sympathy simply by getting through the show – even if the spectators feel slightly cheated after paying to see the big name.

Dan Rogerson, the mildly owlish junior Environment minister, falls into the second category. Substituting for Owen Paterson (matinee idol or pantomime villain depending on how green you are) he survived ministerial questions without major incident – even if he fluffed his lines at one point by saying “millions” instead of “billions”, unfortunately when describing the “money no object” largesse the Coalition is so proud of lavishing on flood defences.

But as a Liberal Democrat he doesn’t provoke the same pleasurable outrage among his opponents as Paterson’s more cavalier attitude to greenery. When the Tory Tim Yeo firmly laid the blame for “the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events” on climate change, Rogerson agreed.

So much so that he came about as near as this gentle minister ever comes to slapping someone down, in this case the sceptical Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone, apparently thrilled to have discovered an alternative explanation – “the jet stream”. Observing with just the merest hint of sarcasm that the MP was “clearly spending a great deal of time studying these methods”, he said that “all the signs were” that movements in the jet stream were themselves “influenced by climate change”. And then slightly spoilt it by adding that this was why “more precipitation has been deposited”. (Raising the exciting possibility of translating – say – Shakespeare’s “The rain it raineth every day” into the only slightly less catchy “Precipitation is being deposited on an ongoing 24/7 basis.”)

He used another euphemism in answer to the virulently anti-HS2 Tory Cheryl Gillan’s question on when the Government would respond to estimates that the project would “totally destroy” 40 ancient woodlands. The MP  was a “doughty campaigner” on the issue, he said. In fact, habitually in her place at the back of the chamber, she increasingly resembles a tricoteuse (ominously scribbling on a thick sheaf of papers rather than knitting like her French revolutionary counterparts) as she eagerly awaits the public execution of the great train project.

So although flooding dominated the session, it was not the only topic. Bovine TB has not gone away despite the culling. Rogerson’s Tory colleague George Eustice revealed the Government was now considering “badger contraception” as a means of tackling the problem. Frustratingly, he did not go into detail.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn