With the apocalypse clock at two minutes to midnight we went along to the Liaison Committee to see the Prime Minister. The Italian budget vote had just been announced. Market raiders were filing their teeth. At any moment, we might have felt a thermo-nuclear thump from Iran, and our leaders would have been magicked away to a subterranean city where they'd sit out the 1,000-year radiation.
"I had a rewarding evening in Bridlington," one committee member offered. Another asked: "Does the Welsh Assembly share your enthusiasm for the Big Society?" It was a core group of a dozen of the select committee chairs. They asked very long, ruminative questions ideally finishing with the words "the Government accepted my committee's recommendations".
It's wrong to single one out but Stephen Dorrell probably won this particular competition with his, "That enlarged definition of professionalism we have sought to develop on the committee, is that part of your thinking?"
"Pathetic idea, of course it isn't." He didn't say that, I must have been dreaming. Cameron gave his exposition of the Big Society again – it's as lucid as ever. And there was a fact that shows something is actually happening. There are 45,000 public sector workers in new mutuals. That is more surprising than it sounds.
So, how is our Prime Minister bearing up? He is still young, fresh and full of first-term energy. He is, as it were, in his post-Kosovo phase and his 9/11 is approaching. We'll have to see whether he can handle this vast event without going to war in the Middle East.
You look at him and can still hope he won't. He talks so like a person, full of energy, intelligence, good humour. "I don't know why I'm lecturing a Labour MP on mutuals," he told Adrian Bailey. "You tell me what we should be doing." None of his predecessors would have said such a thing.
Bernard Jenkin did put him on the spot about the civil service and their particular inabilities, and the lack of a plan, or framework. But what else we were all doing there never emerged.Reuse content