Cabinet curios

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No wonder ministers have been sensitive about the secrecy of Cabinet meetings. Now we know why. It is not because national security would be threatened if we knew what they talked about. It is not even that their differences would be exposed. Before yesterday's leak of the full account of the Cabinet's Millennium Dome discussions, the opposition of most ministers to the project was well known.

No wonder ministers have been sensitive about the secrecy of Cabinet meetings. Now we know why. It is not because national security would be threatened if we knew what they talked about. It is not even that their differences would be exposed. Before yesterday's leak of the full account of the Cabinet's Millennium Dome discussions, the opposition of most ministers to the project was well known.

No, the real reason why politicians do not like freedom of information is that it makes them look silly. Now we have an accurate picture of how some of the biggest egos and most impressive-sounding titles behave in private and it is an embarrassing sight. "If the PM was here and said we should go ahead, we would all accept it", said head girl Margaret Beckett, as the prefects debated unhappily what to do in the headmaster's absence. Head boy Gordon Brown then invented five tests on the spur of the moment, just as he had done for joining the euro, and supply teacher John Prescott said: "Let's leave it to Tony to make whatever statement is going to be made."

We knew that Cabinet government was weaker than it has been since the time of Robert Walpole. We did not know that it was six feet under.

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