Lib Dems shouldn’t put their faith in divine intervention

Farron’s latest claim that he lacks ambition hints at a sinfully laissez faire relationship with the Commandment

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The Independent Online

Taking a much-needed break from the Labour leadership race (the nerves won’t stand any more excitement), we turn to the Liberal Democrat equivalent.

On 16 July, the membership chooses its new Messiah, and verily shall they lay upon his head a crown of thorns. Pardon the Jesus shtick, but evangelical Tim Farron – praise him! – is the hot favourite to beat Norman Lamb. Tim tells The Guardian he discussed his candidacy with the Lord in what may have been the first direct talks between a British MP and the Creator since Mr Tony Blair picked His brains about invading Iraq.

While Tim has God in his corner, Norman’s highest-profile backer is Dappy out of N-Dubz, a client of Norman’s music producer son best known for his proud record in the field of assault. It may be quite the catchweight contest on the celebrity endorsement front, but Dappy’s judgement is sounder than God’s. Lamb lacks charisma and looks a little like “Supersonic” Syd Little, but he is a serious politician with a decent record in government.

Farron’s latest claim that he lacks ambition hints at a sinfully laissez faire relationship with the Commandment, especially given his admission that awarding the Lib Dems two marks out of 10 for their Coalition performance shortly before the election was wrong and subsequently lacerating himself as a “bit of a wombat” for doing so.

That sounds about right, as long as “wombat” is the new street slang (Dappy might know) for “scheming opportunist”.

However distasteful it may be to picture this Ned Flanders manque leading the Lib Dems, Tim’s tireless courting of the membership after being spared a ministerial job because Nick Clegg didn’t think him up to it makes it virtually inevitable. Electing a tambourine-wielder with the political judgement of a Tibetan mountain yak (and not a smart one) will be a spectacular mistake, retarding the Lib Dems’ recovery by however long he remains in the post.

Apologies to the Good Lord, but after His work with Messrs Blair and Bush, it’s probably time He stopped having pow-wows with the faithful and looked for a less mysterious way to perform His wonders.

Give ’em the old one-two

If any politician is less hungry for his party’s leadership than Farron, it is Boris Johnson. His latest masterstroke has you wondering anew if he would make something of himself were he less riven by lack of ambition.

Boris advocates a No vote in the EU referendum, but only to scare Brussels into making major concessions, in which case he would vote Yes in a fictional second referendum. I trust that’s all perfectly plain.

As a Margaret Thatcher Euro impersonator, Boris has a lot to learn. Her slogan “No. No. No.” was memorable. His catchphrase of “No. Erm. Yes, Probably, If The Hun Gives Us What We Want, Whatever That Might Be”… well, not so catchy. Exactly what he means with this lurch into double referendum fantasy land is perplexing. But whatever it is, let me make it clear on his behalf that the last thing he intended to do was send a crude message to the Tory membership that he isn’t a spineless charlatan who will sell the national interest down the river like that nice Mr Cameron.

Forced to take in lodgers

I am bewildered by news that her well- publicised money worries have forced the Queen to rent out a pair of St James’s Palace apartments at a cut-price £20,000 a month. What on earth is the point of Her Majesty sucking up to the Qataris if they won’t bail her out in times of need?

It’s not like she lets the sheikh ride with her in her Royal Ascot carriage for his Wildean conversation. It might be undignified to take sponsorship money to rename her London residence Qataringham Palace. But it’s a damn sight more dignified than becoming a landlady. At this rate the old girl will be advertising on Airbnb before she’s 90.

A voice in the wilderness

The very best of Wimbledon luck not only to our most beloved Andy Murray, but also to John Inverdale. We hope the Andrea Dworkin of smug sports broadcasters adapts well to his reduced role in the BBC’s stupendously dreary TV coverage, after being relegated from presenting the nightly highlights show to one of about 173 commentators (all dismal other than John McEnroe, Greg Rusedski and Simon Reed).

If Invers’s recent work at Queen’s Club is any guide, his lavish descriptive gifts would grace any court in the world – as long as that court wasn’t within a six-mile radius of a grand-slam venue, and never hosted anything approximating professional tennis.

Terror with Radio 2

In the Sun on Sunday, Tony Parsons considers the gruesome scenes in Calais, and expertly identifies the true victims. “British lorry drivers are enduring lives of unimaginable terror,” he writes, and it’s a brilliant point. I can’t imagine the terror of sitting in a cab listening to the radio while people try to sneak into the back of a truck. And I don’t suppose migrants who have fled civil war and survived a Med crossing on a flimsy bit of wood can begin to imagine that level of terror either.