The Sketch: Gordon needs another war to save him

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The Independent Online

Gordon must find Foreign Office questions tantalising. All these countries behaving so badly, committing so many crimes against humanity, offering such moral opportunities. We heard about Burma and its generals. Iran where apostasy and homosexuality are punishable by death. Aden kidnapping tourists. There must be a proper use for these places, Gordon must be thinking. A nice little war, that would do the trick. A surgical, Sierra Leone-style in-and-out. Bang. Ten points in the polls. Moral compass points to election victory. But who?

Can't invade Ireland, we've stopped doing that; it hurts too much. Bulgaria and Romania? Some ethical air strikes might sort out their people-trafficking industries. Syria must be up to something even if we don't know what. Egypt? Too big. Israel? Too strong. Iraq? Too stale. And the Middle East always turns out to be more complicated than it looks.

Zimbabwe? Could we invade Zimbabwe? Would it put the Tories on the wrong side of the argument? It might be popular. The locals might not like it but the Daily Mail would and we'd be out in a jiffy. Bit expensive, though. Maybe instead it would be better unilaterally to take away Sir Robert Mugabe's knighthood. Just like that. By the stroke of a pen. Decisively. But then he'd blame Britain and that wouldn't be popular.

Maybe Ethiopia would be simpler. Actually, listening to Meg Munn, Antarctica would be simpler still. A short, sharp, moral-compass war against the vile regime in Antarctica.

It's Gordon's only option if he wants to recover in the polls. His efforts, for instance, on Zimbabwe have amounted to getting the issue on the agenda of the UN Security Council. It's not enough to move public opinion, I fear. You need explosions to show you moral certitude. Maybe there'll be a bit of luck and al-Qa'ida will fly a 747 into the House of Commons.

The Opposition Day debate went on to rehearse increases in the cost of living. This is less dramatic but a more certain damnation.

Gordon's preferred inflation figure is about 3 per cent. The Retail Price Index (which he discarded) is about 4 per cent. The Daily Mirror's index is up by 11 per cent. And the Tories' is up by twice that.

Bob Marris asked what the Tory policy was in the face of these government-wrecking figures. Philip Hammond didn't say that Tory policy was to watch in wonderment as the whirlwind sowed by the Government itself destroyed its chances of re-election for a decade.

Imagine inflation and interest rates at 10 per cent, 100,000 in negative equity, unemployment at 2.5 million. Gordon might have to declare war on Britain itself to get back in.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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