Matthew Norman: No wonder Nick's poll ratings are plummeting

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The Independent Online

With any potentially transformative national event, our guide is the Chinese communist who, asked about the impact the French Revolution almost two centuries later, said it was too soon to tell. So hats off to Nick Robinson, the BBC's very own Zhou Enlai, for patiently hanging on for almost three months to make his film Five Days That Changed Britain.

Thanks to historical perspective, we now know that Nick Clegg is TV's least gifted dissembler since Homer Simpson reacted to being dealt four jacks by dancing round the room whooping. The Deputy PM must work on this aspect of his work. When next asked if he had a mid-campaign epiphany on the need for instant spending cuts, but in all the excitement forgot to mention it to Vince Cable and other potential Lib Dem voters, the guilty raising of the eyes should be avoided. So should stammering about "perceptions" when asked about fibbing that Gordon Brown had offered him AV without a referendum to con David Cameron into giving him one.

No wonder Nick's approval ratings are plummeting, because tacitly confessing to campaigning as the opponent of a key policy he privately supported and conning coalition concessions with whoppers isn't brilliant politics. If Nick seeks something light and amusing to study on the beach, he might try "The Mr Tony Blair Correspondence Course In Sociopathic Lying".

*As for Nick Robinson, I was very struck by the final words of his film. Having made a stab at Zhouesque caution by admitting it's still early days, he added that there is every chance that those five days changed Britain "for good". He might have said "for a long time" or "permanently", yet seemed to place a heavy stress on that "good". BBC political editors are minutely examined for signs of bias, and Nick, as a former young Tory Nick, more than most. What his current political leaning might be it is, of course, too soon to tell. But you can't take too much trouble with a script.

*Isn't it tremendous to see Jacqui Smith rebuilding her life after losing her seat in May by applying for the vice-chairmanship of the BBC Trust (£77,000 a year for a two-and-a-half day week). Speaking of vice and trust, the rumour that husband Richard has been pressing her to seek a similar position with Channel 5 since it fell into the Richard Desmond's silken hands remains unconfirmed.

*If Jacqui Smith's cleverly calibrated non-denial denial to a reporter's inquiry ("fuck off") doesn't swing it, she should publicly state her intent to move to Salford if and when she gets the job. Counteracting the embarrassment of leading BBC figures refusing to move will do her candidacy good. Radio 5 Live controller Adrian van Klaveren and Peter Salmon are among the latest refuseniks, though as Director of BBC North the latter's principled objection speaks for itself. The advantage for Jacqui is that senior staff are offered £1,800 per month rent for two years, which she could claim while living in the spare room of erstwhile cabinet sister Hazel Blears, the local MP.

*In the most sensational media hoax since the Hitler Diaries, a Melanie Phillips impersonator has taken to Twitter. Mad Mel's husband Joshua Rozenberg isn't happy about the imposto @Mphillips5, and nor will the gullible be when they learn they've been had. I'm bemused that the apparent sanity of the tweets didn't ring the alarm bell for such smart political types as Iain Dale, Adam Boulton and Iain Martin, though less so with another fake MM correspondent. David Aaronovitch, after all, bought all the guff about WMD wholesale. But then it's always the adorably credulous you want to weep for with stings like this. Poor show.