Donald Macintyre's Sketch: If in doubt, blame Labour. For everything
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Tuesday 07 January 2014
Loyally wished a happy birthday by Sir Bob Russell, Nick Clegg, 47 today, thanked his fellow Lib Dem MP before remarking: “On my birthday, I look forward to nothing more than coming to Deputy Prime Minister’s questions.”
He said this in tones of unmistakable sarcasm, suggesting that his real meaning was “quite honestly I’d rather spend the morning submitting to a protracted spell of waterboarding”.
As well he might. The day had started with Boris Johnson calling him a “prophylactic protection device” for David Cameron, or as Boris did not deny, a Prime Ministerial condom.
Then Tory backbencher David Ruffley demanded he apologise for criticising George Osborne’s “excellent speech” on Monday which proposed £12bn of welfare cuts for the poor so, as the Chancellor didn’t quite put it, he can cut taxes for more prosperous floating voters.
Labour’s Dennis Skinner pointed out that there was not one Tory member of the Cabinet present to support him and suggested he did “the decent thing and pack it in and let us have an early election”.
It must have come as a relief – for once – for Clegg to defend the Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable for saying that Cameron’s immigration target was undeliverable. Cable had been “entirely right” to point out “that the number of British people leaving Britain to live elsewhere, or those Brits... coming back, is something that no Government can necessarily control”.
This squares with the task Clegg has set himself of what marketing wallahs call product differentiation. On the one hand he out-Cameroned Cameron in blaming the “mess left behind by the Labour government” for everything from growing food bank use to hospital bed blocking at Christmas. So much so that you can’t help wondering what he will lay at the Opposition’s door next. The floods? Instability in North Korea? The threat that Downton Abbey will end after the present series?
On the other hand, he had no truck with any plans of Osborne for “further sacrifices by the working-age poor who are dependent on welfare”. Or the Government’s immigration target. The Lib Demophobe backbencher, Tory Peter Bone, proposed TV debates that would include Ukip’s Nigel Farage, now on an anti-immigration roll, so that Cameron, instead of saying as he repeatedly did in 2010, “I agree with Nick”, could declare: “I agree with Nige.” This would be Bone’s dream. But a nightmare for many others
- 1 Liam Gallagher brands Kanye West 'utter s**t' during BRIT Awards performance
- 2 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 3 People who sleep more than eight hours are more likely to have a stroke, research shows
- 5 New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...
£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...