The Invisibles. Why have the Shadow Cabinet disappeared from sight?

5 Feb 2015 at 12:13

I didn’t sleep very well last night, so rather than count sheep I decided that it would be more soporific to count members of the Shadow Cabinet. Sadly, it kept me awake as I found it very difficult to name most of them, let alone what on earth their policies were.

The two Eds were easy. The first hopeless and the other a bully. Both are deficit deniers, both are wedded to an unworkable and unpopular mansion tax. And their latest wheeze is to tax the wicked hedge funds. The trouble with this bit of uncosted populism is that according to the Centre For Policy Studies this will be a tax on savings and pensions. So like their old boss and mentor, Gordon Brown, those on private pensions will be clobbered again by a Labour government.

Andy Burnham at health was a bit of a doddle. He’s in denial about the role he and Labour played in sensibly encouraging private providers. As distinguished economist and Labour peer Lord Desai remarked the other day, as long as the NHS is free at the point of delivery and there is quality and value for money, it really doesn’t matter who provides the services. Poor old Andy, the former Andrex puppy has tried to transform himself into a Rottweiler, but ends up looking like a UNITE poodle. We will all fondly remember his car crash on Newsnight when he could not explain why the only part of the NHS that is run by Labour, Wales, is a total shambles.

Tristran Hunt at education then came to mind. A really nice guy but seems in an eternal state of amiable bemusement. Is he for or against Free Schools? I haven’t fathomed this. And neither has he.

Then there is Chuka Umunna at business. Sleek, oiled, dangerously handsome and straight out of a GQ fashion plate. The sort of chap who can’t pass a mirror or any reflected surface without having a self satisfied peek. And you can smell the ambition at fifty feet. He probably farts Armani. The trouble is that his role is to reassure business that Labour is their friend. At that he has spectacularly failed. In the last few day the captains of industry have warned that Labour policies would would be a disaster with the probability that companies would flee the country.

Lastly, I remembered Yvette Cooper who has the incredible capability in debate of running the full gamut of her emotions from A to B. She is regularly touted as a candidate for the leadership. To me that is one of life’s many mysteries.

And that’s about it. I haven’t a clue who is at Defence, DEFRA, Communities, DCMS. I know Rachel Reeves does something, but I’m not sure what. She is always on the telly though.

So why in election year are the majority of the Shadow Cabinet invisible? Incompetence? Lack of motivation? That horrible dread feeling that they are going to be trashed at the election? Heaven knows, maybe all three.

The Scottish polls must have had a chilling effect. Poor Jim Murphy, a rather decent sort, is a committed Blairite who is trying to pretend to be more socialist than the SNP which is a very tall order. I hadn’t realised until the devolution debates that Scottish Labour, unlike their English counterparts, want to scrap Trident. Barmy. What a mess.

Now ‘Tory collaborators’ (thanks Prezza), wicked right wingers such as Milburn, Hutton and Mandelson are just trying to remind Ed, that Blair, governing from a tad left of centre, must have been doing something right as he is the most successful election leader Labour has ever had. The big tent has turned into a rather isolated tepee where the peace pipe is nowhere to be found.

Then this morning dear old Danny Alexander came up with a great wheeze to try and capture the youth vote, end universal benefits for pensioners. Bonkers. Piss off the pensioners at your peril. They vote in droves whereas by and large, the young can’t be arsed.

The Labour manifesto will make the 1983 ‘suicide note’ seem like a middle of the road stroll in the park.

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Grayling's attempt to curtail judicial review shows he puts the dick into tat. This is one shit that will have to be flushed after the election

22 Jan 2015 at 20:37

If we were not a few weeks away from an election Chris Grayling would have been ventilated from office. The man is incompetent and a disgrace. I have bored you enough about how he is dismantling our system of justice, destroying the independent bar and plans to close down the family solicitor and replace them with G4s, (under investigation), SERCO (under investigation) and Co-op law ( say it with Flowers). His department has been judicially reviewed so many times and spend so much time in the High Court that it is amazing that they haven’t put in a right to buy. It is not surprising that he wants to limit it.

Just a quick word for the uninitiated. We are governed by statutory instruments which usually go through on the nod, or late on a Thursday night in the Commons when nobody can be arsed to be there. They affect all of our lives as they determine how government departments are able to operate. In other words, within the law. So if your kid has been deprived of a school place, or some dreadful development has suddenly appeared out of nowhere and the government hasn’t obeyed the rules laid down by Parliament you can toddle of the the High Court and try and persuade a senior judge that you are not being vexatious or frivolous. And it is a rigorous sifting process. We call it the rule of law.

But according to Grayling all this is the wicked work of smelly socked swampy types. Bloody lefties. The rule of law, like freedom is so precious that it has to be rationed. Grayling puts the dick into tat.

So when you have such lefties as former Lord Chief Justices, former Tory Cabinet ministers defeating his Putinesque bill in the Lords as they have ‘a chilling effect on British justice’ and you have Law Lords like Lord Panick warning that ‘The Lord Chancellor’s remarks on judicial review demeans the office’ it really is time to be deeply concerned.

But there is really something Gothically comic about the the Grayling mind set. He set up dear old Lord Faulks (an opponent of the Grayling legal carnage before he took up office) to come up with a killer argument in the debate. That judicial review had to be curtailed as the development of a supermarket had been delayed by six months! My God these bloody lefty fat cat lawyers are really taking the Lidl. Grayling really is off his trolley after all.

Somehow I think that not enough government time will be found to reverse this welcome Lords defeat. But after the election when Cameron returns to Downing Street Grayling is a shit which will have to be flushed.

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Labours Health tactics are a disgrace and Farage is the only party leader that doesn't believe in an NHS that is free at the point of delivery

21 Jan 2015 at 18:54

An eerie silence has descended upon Westminster. Eyes that are normally popping out on stalks have ceased to swivel. Ruddy faces usually contorted in rage have become more like beacons of serenity. And the green portcullised carpets have been spared the usual foam specked gnashing of Tory teeth. The loonies have returned to their wards. Of course they still loathe Cameron. But he is beginning to look like a winner. And nobody wants to be seen to rock the boat. Well, not just yet.

This has been a terrible couple of weeks for all the other parties. Labour’s mansion tax has been ripping them apart. When Diane Abbott joins forces with the Prince of Darkness whom she would not piss on if he was on fire, Miliband is in serious trouble. Unemployment is plummeting, with more jobs being created in the UK than the whole of the EU. Well, in England anyway. In the Labour fiefdom of Wales unemployment has risen by 9000 and in SNP controlled Scotland by 7000. With inflation the lowest in 50 years and energy prices falling without statutory intervention, wages are beginning to catch up. By the time of the election the cost of living peg on which what passes of Labour’s economic policy hangs would have fallen off the wall. Couple this with the gushing praise for Cameron by Obama and Osborne’s economic successes lauded by by the IMF and there are the beginnings of a hope that Cameron could achieve a working majority. But there is always the unexpected unexpected. The Eurozone is still in critical care. I foresee no chance of economic stability in the near future. And they are our largest market.

Then there there was the remarkable double whammy from the Bank of England. Inflation could be zero by April and there will be no interest rises for a long while to come.

It has been an appalling week for UKIP. Many of us predicted that the cerebral and rather decent Douglas Carswell would tire of the crazy antics of Farage and be shocked atthe the soft and repellent rump of unpleasantness that has become the hallmark of the KIPPERS. Farage has lost his chief policy maker, has cocked up on the NHS, and has had his ‘foreigners are nicking our jobs’ fox shot and buried under a couple of tons of concrete. There are 700,000 job vacancies. Worse, the Greens, who really are a bunch of crackpots, are taking votes from Labour and UKIP.

But this is going to a vile and dishonest election. Nick Robinson is not a liar. And if he says that Miliband told him that he plans to weaponise the NHS, something that he has not denied, then it was said. It will haunt him. But Andy Burnham’s tactics are an utter disgrace. To accuse the Tories of privatisation of the NHS at the expense of patients is a lie. He signed off the Circle deal. He was in charge when the horrors of Mid Staffs was occurring. And he damn well knows that his government would be spending precisely the same amount as the Coalition. To frighten the elderly and vulnerable to grub a few votes is despicable. He is going to have a tough election, particularly if the MAIL story that Labour supporters sabotaged Circle is proved. Tonight’s party political broadcast borders upon the wicked. There is only one party leader who does not believe that health should be free at the point of delivery and that is Farage. What a dreadful little man.

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There has always been a sensitivity to humour amongst demagogues, dictators and fundamentalists

8 Jan 2015 at 16:04

There is a justified sense of horror and outrage in the civilised world at the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The real question is why are we at all surprised? In our cosy, reasonably well fed Western European comfort blanket satire and the freedom to cause offence is deeply embedded in our culture. It never has never existed anywhere in the Middle East with the exception of Israel.

Fundamentalists of all religions tend to be a humourless bunch. There are some pretty dreadful and barbaric punishments in Leviticus. Stoning to death children who disobey their parents, women who are menstruating near a temple and homosexuals, to name a few from quite a long and vaguely ridiculous list of capital crimes. And the Koran has plenty of smiting, smoting, and beheading for an equally ridiculous list. But the overwhelming majority of believers appreciate that these reflect a barbaric time and consign them to the eccentricities of history. Of course, those who want to promote their own warped causes cherry pick the bloodthirsty parts and turn them into some sick badge of honour. Like the American pastor who recently came to to the conclusion that God had the solution to AIDS; just kill off the gays. He quoted Leviticus.

The Muslim world is really going to have to get to grips with what happened in Paris and speak with one clear voice. It is not good enough to condemn and then add, ‘but the Prophet is more beloved to believers than parents or children, to insult him could lead to consequences’. In other words although we don’t condone this sort of behaviour don’t be too surprised if the nutters take the law into their own hands. The subtext being feel free to satirise anything but our religion. It should go without saying that this is contrary to everything that we hold dear. Dictators, demagogues and those who manically believe in a cause have one thing in common; they don’t like the piss being taken out of them. In Western Democracies satire is our escape valve and in rock and roll language ‘sticking it to the man’ is a helpful way of exposing pomposity and corruption. So how do we react to what happened in Paris?

There is the embryo of a thesis by some commentators that our newspapers have been engaged in collective cowardice. That they haven’t taken head on the fundamentalists. That they are afraid of causing offence. And there was some criticism that Private Eye didn’t reprint the Danish cartoons that caused such uproar. I don’t buy this for one moment. There has always been a degree of self censorship by the British Press regarding causing gratuitous offence to people’s religious beliefs, but never self censorship of the fight against Islamic extremism. Already the Internet is teeming with satire and I suspect that the next few days so will the main stream press. It’s risky but its the price we must pay for democracy and freedom of speech.

But I feel desperately sorry for the overwhelming majority of law abiding Muslims through Europe. There is a dangerous awakening of deeply unpleasant and right wing sentiments emerging in many EU countries. Paris plays into their dangerous hands. In Britain we must do everything we can to support and protect our Muslim communities. But we must stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against extremism. There can be no equivocation.

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May will be livid at being called 'once loyal' by Tim Montgomerie

22 Dec 2014 at 18:36

Just as I had thought that John Witherow had unbuckled the final strap of Tim Montgomerie’s canvas jacket and administered the final dose of Maggadone (a fairly painless method of weaning people off of a deadly addiction to Thatcherism), his latest piece in the Thunderer made me realise that he still needs help. And sadly, in this age of austerity, there have been cuts to the Gove Programme of Enlightened Re-education. So it’s going to be a tough Christmas for Monty. The counselling may not be there for him. It could be cold turkey.

And the piece in question? ’Don’t vote for David Cameron at the next election’. You, of course, may vote for him in Witney, but only with fingers crossed and a garland of garlic. Well, thank heavens for that. ‘You might think that your’e voting for a Cameron government, but the Tories may change leader within days of the election and almost certainly within two years. Mr. Cameron may choose to quit himself in 2017, assuming that he is still prime minister. By then he’ll have been Tory leader for a gruelling 12 years. It’s just as likely that he will be forced out earlier. As recent days have shown, the Cameroons are at war with once loyal colleagues such as Theresa May.’

Oh, how Monty’s old bosses such as IDS and O’Patz will be creaming in their jeans! No doubt he will argue that all he is doing is trying to persuade all Cameron haters and swivel eyed Euro carpet biters that they don’t have to fall into the poisonous embrace of the Faragistas. Vote Tory and you can nail that pinko, husky hugging anti-marriager for once and for all.

But this analysis is a fantasy worthy of Kim Wrong Un. Cameron is going to fight for a fair deal from Brussels and he expects Hammond to deliver it for him. And the portents are not at all bad.

And I am certain that Theresa May will be positively glacial as being given a name check as ‘once loyal’. To say that the two camps are at war with each other is fanciful silly season gossip. May is a formidable, successful and valued Home Secretary. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that Cameron wants her out of the way. Like David Young she does not bring him problems, only solutions. She is an asset and a vote winner. Day by day she shoots a KIPPER fox and like a gamekeeper hangs them outside the Home Office.

The problem the Tories have at the moment is entourage creep. Some little boys at No 10 are furious that she is getting such rave reviews and some of the little boys at the Home Office are not helping her cause with silly briefings. I would imagine that Cameron is irritated by the scribblers who are looking for splits, plots and bids. And so he should be. Labour is in disarray, they have no credible economic policy, Milband is a joke and Balls a thug in denial. Even better, the KIPPERS are being found out for what they really are and Farage is in a hole at the controls of a JCB digger.

Perhaps that is what is worrying the right. There is a real possibility that Cameron will win with a working majority. The horror of it all! And now the mantra is that it is all George Osborne’s doing. Bonkers. If Cameron is stuffed so is he.

If there are any manoeuvres going on at the Home Office I would be amazed if May doesn’t put the kibosh on them. She would be foolish not to.The last thing that she wants is to be blamed for division. She was party chairman and knows that the voters and the grass roots despise it.

Now a radical thought. Why don’t the entourages bugger off for Christmas and maintain a vow of silence? Perhaps indulge in a New Years resolution only to brief the press about unity and successful policies. If not there should be sackings on all sides. An election victory is becoming more possible each day. It would be bordering on the criminal to sabotage it.

And as for Monty? I am sure that intensive counselling can be made available. In the festive spirit I will send him a bottle of Maggadone myself.

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Baroness Jenkin is right. Get over it

8 Dec 2014 at 19:25

Now I appreciate that this will really piss some people off, but Baroness Jenkin was right. Some of the poor do not know how to cook. This is an historical problem. My folks and their folks were brought up in the East End of London. Looking back it would seem an horrific childhood. In my mum’s case it was seven to a bed with a father who was a boxer who practiced on her mother. In 1905 she had the courage to divorce him which in those days was courageous. But they all stuck together. And before the days of welfare putting food on the table was a problem. Mothers knew every wrinkle. On a Saturday evening my mum would go to the bakers and get a bag of stale biscuits for a penny. They scoured the markets and got good deals. They ate. Not like princes but well enough to share a meal with one child from the orphanage every Sunday.

The art of making the best of what you could obtain has always been the way the poor have eaten. Go to Italy and France and realise that was is now haute cuisine was basically how the poor ate. Pomme Boulangere is just potatoes and onions shoved in a baker’s oven when it was cooling down after the last bake of the day.

The trouble is that in this country families have been fragmented. Often single mothers are products of other single mothers. The handed down art of cooking nutritiously and cheaply has been mostly lost. In the days of terraced housing mums would be just a few doors down and would always be about help out in cooking and looking after the kids. Society has changed.

Years ago I used to appear on KILROY and other television shows discussing this. A nutritionist would appear and show healthy a cheap food that could be bought from the market at a fraction of the cost of a supermarket. She would be looked on as if she had just been beamed down from another planet. That was in the eighties. We haven’t moved on.

I think it is quite appalling that someone as fundamentally decent and socially aware as Ann should be forced to apologise for something that is true. But a difficult truth.

This has nothing to do with benefit policy, nothing to do with food banks and everything to do with common sense and education. It’s time we taught mums and dads how to cook.

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We don't want an economist as Chancellor we need a politician

4 Dec 2014 at 12:37

Will someone please explain to columnists like Peter Oborne that the Chancellor is actually a politician. And, shock horror, politicians make decisions to persuade the public to vote for them. There seems to be a sneering attitude towards George Osborne from the chattering classes this morning that his Autumn Statement was political. Well, of course it was. It shows a clear blue ocean between the Tories, Labour and to a certain extent some factions within the LibDems. The difference is stark and the message is clear. The Tories will give you as much as your hard earned money back as the economy can afford, encourage, growth and shrink the state whilst the other lot will tax and spend with the abandon of a drunk who has won the lottery.

You can almost smell the burning rubber of the columnist U turns. A few years ago George was an omnishambles Chancellor, cutting too fast and too deep with growth a fantasy and the country heading towards a double dip recession. ‘Where is plan B?’ they would scream. Now he is not cutting enough. He has ignored the mountain of debt. He is gambling with our future.

The truth is that Osborne has proved his critics hopelessly wrong. The man with the plan which was routinely rubbished has stuck the course, avoided the temporary political expedient of a U turn and now presides over an economic success story. But the wicked man is a politician. He realises that employment and growth figures mean very little to the public. They have seen their standard of living fall. They need to feel good about themselves. They want to share in the success that they read about but hasn’t trickled down to them yet. And that is what this Autumn Statement was all about, making people feel more secure in their jobs and persuading them if you work hard you will be rewarded. After all it’s not the government’s money, it’s come from the workers.

The real losers in this announcement is Labour and in particular the two Eds. Their mansion tax is an unworkable shambles. And they talk about reducing the deficit with the eloquence of Satan denouncing sin. Osborne the politician has out manoeuvred them on every flank. They can hardly moan about the NHS a being denied vital cash. They can’t scream that the stamp duty changes are unfair. And they can’t claim without crossing their fingers that the Tories are targeting the poor and the expense of their rich cronies. To build an election campaign on saving the NHS and on the cost of living is not so much a strategy as a cry for help. They might as well make Russell Brand Shadow Chancellor.

And where does this leave the KIPPERS? Time will tell. But when people feel better about their prospects and more secure they are less likely to look for scape goats. When lifestyles improve why take a risk with Labour and a white knuckled ride to oblivion with Farage at the controls.

No, you Fleet Street doomsayers we don’t want an economist for a Chancellor we want a politician.

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What if Penny Mordaunt had been a man? The wimmin would be screaming for her resignation

30 Nov 2014 at 10:36

I have been reading with various degrees of mild irritation and amusement Penny Mordaunt’s now notorious ‘cock’ speech. Her real mistake was not so much making a rather foolish and on the scale of things a rather minor error of judgement, but fessing up to it at a public event.

The usual suspects make the usual allegations. She was trivialising Parliament. Er, yes. She was trivialising poultry care. A little bit. So far nobody has been daft enough asked for her resignation. A grovelling apology to Mr Speaker and it will blow over. No fowl play is expected.

Now I don’t want to appear sexist, but what if a man had made that speech, with mildly amusing vagina references? The Eagle sisters would be spitting venom and Hattie would demanding her resignation. And Ed, if he could get it right would accuse Cameron of demeaning women. The poor male miscreant would be hung out to dry.

And this is what we poor things with penises have to put up with. It’s perfectly acceptable to portray husbands on adverts on the telly as dimwits but a national outrage to portray wives as a bit dopey. Personally provided it is in reasonable taste and quite funny I don’t give a damn about either.

However Parliament has been trivialised for years. Remember that drunken, rambling piss take of women’s rights from Alan Clark at the despatch box?And if enthusiastic journos can be bothered they should scan Hansard and be astounded at how many odd phrases will appear. Most as a result of a bet. I can remember ministers would have competitions about how they could place words or phrases into speeches. One minister astounded civil servants by addressing a meeting with, ‘it all started with a meteorite’.

But this was all a long time ago. Well, ish. Parliament and the horrors of modern technology whereby anybody can suddenly appear on U tube stalks every bar and street. MPs, overworked, stressed and in an insecure job environment now have their every off guarded moment likely to be beamed into our homes and crucified in the local press.

Penny Mordaunt will survive this fairly easily. She is not robotically on message, she seems good fun this was a bet with naval officers. After all she does represent Portsmouth. But best not do it again. Misplaced humour never goes down well if you are in the public eye.

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Fire up the KIPPER Quattro. But Farage will not be at the controls. It will be Ed and the SNP

21 Nov 2014 at 15:53

If only the Labour Party could take a few lessons from Tony Blair. He understood the importance of encouraging hardworking people. He understood that if Labour was to win it was vital that the party reached across party divides. More importantly, he understood that voters would not vote for him if they were terrified that the Treasury’s sticky fingers would be perpetually dipping into their pockets. And for three elections it worked. After all he learned at the feet of the Mistress, Margaret Thatcher. She was regarded as the cuckoo in the nest, not a ‘true Tory’,but managed to reach across the parties. It started with the right to own a Georgian door and then to buy the council house that families had spent so much on. She brought back pride in council estates and ripped the heart out of an ‘everyone knows their place’ mentality. Most of all she gave everyone from any background the opportunity to improve their lives.

Sadly, like Blair and all great leaders she went a little bonkers.

But Tony Blair has been demonised as a war mongering Tory. He was regarded by the unions and the left as a cuckoo in the nest as well. The S word disappeared from the New Labour vocabulary. And to a certain extent he was throwing out the unelectable chicks from the Labour nest. He was a very effective political cross dresser. Miliband will learn no lessons from him. Someone who should be admired as an election winner is despised as a class traitor.

And there lies the problem. Grass roots Labour are genuinely horrified at the Thornberry tweet. White Van man deserted the Tories for New Labour. And at by elections they have been migrating to the KIPPERS. In many ways that tweet summed up the problems Miliband’s Labour has. A Westminster elite living in two million pound houses and never having to worry overly about paying the mortgage or the bills. It was right that she resigned. But the damage has been done. Not catastrophic but a serious hole beneath the credibility water line. Chris Bryant, who is more politically savvy than he is often given credit, summed it up well, ‘always respect the voters even when you disagree with them’.

The trouble for Thornberry is that although she represents an Islington constituency, it’s not all posh Labour; she has Finsbury which is not lacking in White Van culture. And she has a majority of just over three thousand. It might be time for her to dust down her wig.

What is fascinating about KIPPER support, according YOUGOV, is that most of them are just fed up and would like Britain to return to life as it was thirty years ago. Fire up the Quattro and put a mullet headed Farage at the controls. Except that he won’t be at the controls. He won’t have enough MPs (I don’t think that he will have any) to be propping up a government. What he could achieve is a Miliband government propped up by the SNP. The SNP who don’t give a damn for the UK, only for Scotland. The most terrifying scenario for any democrat.

So that is what Farage can deliver. The end of everything White Van man and the rest of us hold dear.

The next election will about who governs Britain and who can fulfil the aspirations for those who work their guts out and feel unloved.

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UKIP has now become a fully fledged Westminster bubble party. It is tearing itself apart

18 Nov 2014 at 13:30

It may have passed by the good people of Rochester and Strood but UKIP have finally grown into a fully fledged Westminster bubble party. They are tearing themselves apart. This is not about the racism, sexism homophobia and general bonkerism that simmers unpleasantly below the surface but something even more damaging; economic policy. The scythes are out for their economic spokesman Patrick O’Flynn.

I have known Patrick since he was a young journalist cutting his teeth in Westminster. Our political views are on different planets, but basically he is a a thoroughly decent if wholly misguided fellow. As the former political editor of the Express he knows that if UKIP is to be taken remotely seriously at the General Election they must have the semblance of a credible economic policy.

His first set back was rather a wacky idea to tax luxury goods which was disowned by his leader within a few hours. But his real crime according to those close to Farage is that he is a ‘Pinko’. On the Bloom scale of barminess this measures at about scale 8. Bloom sets the bar high. On Question Time he had the temerity to suggest that big business aggressive tax avoiders should be made to pay tax. Not particularly controversial one might think. But in the wacky world of UKIPism this is about as serious as granting Juncker an honoury knighthood.

And this is not the first time that they have snuggled up to those who are less than honest. They oppose the European Arrest Warrant and want to go back to the bad old days of the 1957 Convention whereby anybody wanted for tax evasion or fraud cannot be extradited. Yet I have not heard a single minister, not even the admirable Shapps call them the fraudster’s friend.

The difficulty is that the KIPPERS are great at talking the talk on democracy, but that’s as far as it goes. Farage possesses the qualities of the infallibility of a medaeval Pope and the terror of Joseph Stalin. Few dare to cross him and if they do they tend to disappear.

This is going to be a problem for the rather cerebral Carswell, but not a burden for that fine example of nominative determinism, Reckless. Anyhow, in Westminster he is regarded as a bit of a shit. The most serious charge of all.

So after all the brouhaha of this by election O’Flynn will have a simple choice, submit himself to his master’s whims or kindly leave the stage. I just wonder whether the KIPPERS ever sit down and actually discuss policy with Farage. After all, the 2010 manifesto was denounced by him as total drivel. Yes, I know he wasn’t leader then, it was in the Edward Scisserhands of Lord Pearson. But he was a back seat driver. So none of us have a clue what UKIP’s economic policy is. More worryingly neither does its economic spokesman.

But the real chimpanzee in the room is the EU. Cameron is in an impossible position. Say anything remotely in its favour and there are howls of protest from the Rampton Wing. They really don’t want a debate they just want to get out, no matter what the consequences. And they want to trap Cameron to reveal his negotiating position to undermine it. So it was left to John Major, a past master of negotiating with Brussels, to spell out the obvious. There is room to negotiate on migration, there is room to negotiate on transparency and democracy. But most importantly, he warned that although we could trade outside The EU we would have to pay for the privilege. It is about time sensible ministers shouted this from the rooftops. It is rather important. And hopefully might just prevent us from accidentally sleepwalking out of Europe.

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