The Sketch: Cameron goes chasing after the wrong fox

Share
Related Topics

It's hard to know who should be more affronted by the Prime Minister's darkly archaic reference to "red pests" yesterday: the country's foxes or the Labour MP who asked why Cameron wanted to relegalise the hunting of them with hounds.

Cameron, of course, is much too young to know that having cut his political teeth in the 1970s as a lieutenant to Frank Chapple, below, the electricians' union leader and scourge of all things communist, John Spellar could hardly be an unlikelier man to provoke the gibe. But that's what he did.

Repeating that he had "never broken the law" by hunting in defiance of the ban, the Prime Minister declared with a flourish: "The only little red pests I pursue these days are in this House."

But then Cameron had just had to endure, as he must have known since early morning he would, Ed Miliband publicly unwrapping with gusto a surprise late Christmas present: the emergence of a "restricted" Downing Street document listing reasons why the Coalition would be unwise to publish, at the same time as its mid-term review, an "audit" of its promises, the ones it had broken as well as those it had kept, as it might lead to "unfavourable copy".

Given that this week's Coalition relaunch is beginning by now to have an Apollo 13 feel to it, this was a heaven-sent opportunity for Miliband to try out his new non-shouty, laid-back, more-in-sorrow-than-anger style, as in the quasi-magisterial "I'm afraid the Prime Minister will have to do better than that", the patronising "Have another go; it's a simple question" and the downright exasperating: "It is early in the year so calm down. You've got difficult times ahead."

To be fair, Cameron did his best in adversity, later recovering enough to point out that while defending benefits for the poor and attacking tax breaks for the rich, "apparently the Labour party thinks it is right to give child benefit to millionaires". But it's a week the Coalition may be glad to see the back of. And there's still Nick Clegg's radio show on LBC to come.

As if to set this up, the ever-menacing LibDemophobe Philip Davies asked the Prime Minister whether he was closer "politically" to his Deputy Prime Minister or Lord Tebbit. A bit of a Hobson's choice this. And before saying blandly that he was naturally "closer to all Conservatives", Cameron observed: "I managed to get through Christmas without spending any time with either of them."

But for educational value, Tebbit is surely the correct answer. Indeed, as a one-time right-wing union official himself (in the British Airline Pilots Association) he could tell the Prime Minister a thing or two about Frank Chapple.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Java Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity for an ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading digital agenci...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Advisor

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A chance to work for an extreme...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Health workers of the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres take part in training  

Are we starting to see the end of Ebola? Not quite, but we're well on our way

Tom Solomon
 

I loathe the term ‘hard-working people’. It's patronising, snobbish and wrong

Simon Kelner
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea