If James Kirkup, blogging at the Torygraph, judges aright (and he’s a shrewd wee fella), we have all crossed a Rubicon:
I’ll leave it to others to discuss the fine details of Press regulation, but having returned from David Cameron’s (fairly hastily-arranged) media conference on the issue this morning, I’m struck by something that may have wider implications.
As he explained his plan to put his own proposals for regulation to the Commons next week, Mr Cameron used a striking phrase.
“Look, we have a hung Parliament,” he said. “In the end Parliament is going to have to decide. Parliament is sovereign.”
Now, at one level, that’s fairly unexciting: it is a simple fact that the 2010 general election led to a hung Parliament, where no single party has a majority.
Yet this is the first time I can recall Mr Cameron explicitly admitted that; I don’t think he’s ever used the phrase “hung parliament” before, though I’m happy to be corrected if anyone can find another case.
In effect, we are where we should have been in May 2010, and where we were bound to be long before 2015: the Tories are governing as a minority administration, with limited aid and assistance from the LibDems. The LibDems are kept “on board” by a love of red boxes, some fancy titles, personal ambition, a need to strut — all at the cost of underpinning ‘Gids’ Osborne’s continued slash-and-burn on the national economy.
The men in grey suits approach!
We have, it ought to be admitted, gone past the moment when this administration was serving any useful purpose. The only wonder is that there is any public support left. The Tory party nationally is in revolt against its elected members. The parliamentary party is riven asunder. Things have reached a pretty pass when Adam Afriyie can seriously be viewed as even a stalking donkey. Whether Mrs May is a more serious proposition remains to be seen (and Dave Brown at the Indy seems to relish the thought):
It was the marvellous Alan Watkins who came up with the term “men in (grey) suits” — the political undertakers who arrived to tell a party leader the time had come for his early departure from the scene. While the old notion was that “loyalty” was the Tory Party’s greatest asset, the truth is that the Tories are the most ruthless assassins of a failing leader.
- Two years out from a General Election is getting very close to the moment when a failing leader (Tory, LibDem or whatever) can be defenestrated, and party loyalties re-connected;
- It is difficult to see how — short of Pope Francis leading an Argentinian landing party at Port Stanley — the credibility of the present government and its Prime Minister can be recovered;
- Well, actually, one scenario — the nuclear option — offers: Cameron dismisses all the LibDem ministers, reshuffles, goes far Right (he still wouldn’t be believed or trusted by those he seeks to appease), invites the UKIPper defectors back into the tent, and abandons any hope of the centre ground;
- If he doesn’t quell the dissent on his right, Cameron limps on until the men in grey suits toll the knell of parting Dave;
- If Cameron goes, who?
- If Cameron goes, can Clegg be far behind?
- Can Ed Balls keep a straight face?