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.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
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

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Qualified Teacher Required to work with SEN - Nottingham

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are cur...

Senior Infrastructure Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure Ana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments