Village People: Could Clegg be about to add a new word to his lexicon?


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Olly Grender, Newsnight pundit, Twitter star and top Liberal Democrat apologist has gone into the Cabinet Office to be Nick Clegg's spin doctor while her predecessor, Lena Pietsch, is on maternity leave.

Two months ago Ms Grender published her 12 rules for dealing with a media storm – not knowing then that she would soon be called upon to practise what she preached. Rule 12 was: "Say sorry. Say it quickly and keep saying it."

The memory harks back to last December when, having signed a pre-election pledge to vote against any increase in student tuition fees, Nick Clegg was about to take his troops through the lobby to vote for an increase in tuition fees. Was he sorry? Oh no, no. "If there's one thing I'm not going to apologise for ... it's that you just cannot avoid but deal with the world the way it is," he told The Independent on Sunday. I wonder if Ms Grender will get him to observe Rule 12.

Tebbit takes a stand against equality gone mad

Norman Tebbit, who chaired the Conservative Party in Margaret Thatcher's day, is 80 years old, but still the fire has not gone out. As the House of Lords debated the Equality Act this week, one of the many objections raised by Lord Tebbit was that the Labour government had aimed to make the top echelons of the Civil Service more representative of the population as a whole. "Surely, we do not want 15 per cent of near-illiterates and 10 per cent of near-innumerates in the higher ranks of the Civil Service?" his lordship exclaimed.

Darling reveals extent of David Miliband's disappointment

Alistair Darling's newly published memoirs reveal that, in June 2010, he and David Miliband met secretly at an Essex farm to discuss whether they could get rid of Gordon Brown, and despairingly concluded that they could not.

What a sad contrast to the optimistic prognosis of David M published five years ago this weekend in the New Statesman: "The transition to Gordon – just to underline – the transition to Gordon Brown, the smooth transition to Gordon Brown, the energising, refreshing transition to Gordon Brown – not to anyone else – is a transition that is about ideas and values..."

Scotland persists in posing a question without an answer

Some of the finest independent brains in the land are being assembled by the Government to see if they can find an answer to the "West Lothian question" – which they won't, of course, as it is unanswerable.

Not everyone will remember how this question got its name. The phrase was coined by Enoch Powell, as a tribute to the near superhuman persistence of Tam Dalyell Labour MP for West Lothian.

In the 1970s he was the single most dogged opponent of Scottish devolution. On every clause, sub clause and amendment during the long passage of the Scotland Bill he asked a variant of the same question: "How can I vote on health in Blackburn, Lancashire, but not in Blackburn, West Lothian?" Usually, he would add it was a question which "cannot be asked too often" – until one day the exasperated Devolution minister, John Smith, was moved to cry out: "Yes it bloody well can!" Dalyell is alive and well and published his autobiography last month.