Well, in general, most definitely “yes”. But he does have his moments.
He is the onlie true begetter of the Questions to Which the Answer is No spot. This derives from those infamous headlines which form a meme for the Daily Mail, but the form is now so universal (see the title for this post) few media mouths miss Rentoul’s skewering. As a mark of how weird-and-wonderful things can be, this Marlene gem, as right, reached only an honourable runner-up ranking in Rentoul’s pick-of-the-year. Still, in a world where Hedy Lamarr gets credit for mobile ‘phone technology, anything is possible.
Is a super-volcano just 390 miles from London about to erupt?
No one to replace Ed Miliband? Try Yvette Cooper
There might not be too many of Labour’s rank-and-file (not the union bosses, not the pushy Commons wannabes) wholly out of sympathy there, John. Many of us were prepared to give her the nod last time, above either Miliband and her husband. The lady, though, was not for that turning. And quite correctly so.
The Ed question
First of all, let’s address the omnipresent journalistic twitch, which amounts to Ed must go! Not because he isn’t up to the job, but because he isn’t Cameron, or Blair, or even elder brother. He’s there, and (short of an incident involving the Parliament Hill buses — in which case Harriet gets another spell in the spotlight, and the other Ed should be enstooled) he is going to be there in a year’s time — when the parliamentary scene will be entirely different.
No: what’s going on is SCD (seasonal correspondent disorder), the need to generate a bit of ad-hominem excitement. The reptiles haven’t managed a decent public disembowelling in … oh! … several weeks. They got Laws. They missed out on Vince Cable. They got Fox. It’s a toss-up they’ll get Huhne. They crave the taste of red, raw meat. Like carrion-feeders everywhere, they scour the landscape for any prey with the trace of a limp.
Meanwhile, by comparison, Cameron, thanks in part to that duplicitous or not pseudo-veto, got his Christmas bounce. It’s a well-known phenomenon at this time of the year, when the spirit of joy and bon-homie is all around us. Just wait for the January credit-card bills to arrive, and watch for the corresponding fall. And, by ‘eck and Wee Eck, there are plenty of Tories and others willing Cameron’s fall.
One half-decent Commons performance, and our Ed rides again.
Heir and spare
Like royalty, every political party ought to come equipped with an heir and a spare. At the moment the divine Yvette is merely the spare. If Cameron were to bluster his Bullingdon way through this parliament, and still be standing after the next General Election, that’s Yvette’s moment. But not before.
Far more to the point, let’s speculate on the pecking-order in the two ConDem parties.
In the lower Fifth common-room, all that keeps Clegg top-dog is that big, big question hovering over Huhne wherever he dares to put himself around. Laws is still hors-de-combat, Vince is over-the-hill and soiled goods. The ginger rodent is just ludicrous. So: no heir, and no spare.
Up on the prefects’ corridor, matters may — or may not — be clear-cut. For the planned natural succession is clearly not feasible: it was to be Gids Osborne half-way into the next parliament. Gids is now past his sell-by date, and — short of some economic miracle which even he no longer envisages— irrecoverable. Which leaves Blasted Boris salivating, though he could well come a cropper in the May election. In which case, exit BoJo moping (and desperately sniffing for a safe seat). Who else? Any sensible party would recall Hague, but when did “sense” and Tory” fit in the same expression? Anyway, Hague is happily enjoying London’s finest office-suite, all the air miles that go with it, and has enough Yorkshire nous to avoid a poisoned chalice.
Some suggest that the reason why Cameron doesn’t reshuffle is because of his weakness. He cannot afford any more disaffection, by failure to promote or by disappointed defenestration, festering on the back benches. That brings us to the recent Tory intake, all by now fed up with pandering to the Whip, being fed patsy questions to protect second-rate ministers, and wondering was it for this they shaved their legs and gave up the day job? Credit to Tim Montgomerie for fostering such ambitions, deserved or not, with his regular swimming-costume round of the Tory beauty parade.
Which is posed (posed! as left) by the egregious and omnipresent Louise Mensch:
“I’m not even a PPS [parliamentary private secretary, the lowest rung on the government ladder]! It’s kind of annoying. What do I have to do to get promoted over here? Am I being disloyal? I don’t know. I need to sit down with my whip and say, ‘What do I have to do?’ No, every time there is a raft of PPS promotions and my name is not on them, I have to sit down and think, ‘What am I doing wrong?’”