If you heard two men screaming, “what the Fuck!!???” over breakfast this morning, it would have been the heart warming screech of horror from David Cameron and Nick Clegg reading the front page of the Guardian. For those not yet up to speed, let me give you a thumbnail sketch.
Today’s Guardian splash is by Nick Watt about a minister, “with a central role” in negotiations with Scotland should there be a YES vote. He is reported as saying, “of course there will be currency union”.
Firstly, let’s check the provenance of this. Watt is an experienced, honest and competent journalist working for a serious, although sometimes irritating newspaper. This is not one of those stories where Our Man at the Mini Bar has secretly recorded a minister making a nod, nod, wink, wink speech at a private dinner. Watt refers to the unnamed felon as making a “private admission”. This suggests a good lunch or even more dangerous, one of those horrendous mineral water sipping affairs where our hero has an agenda. Blurting out a, " well, if the jockos are mad enough to want to go it alone there has to be a deal" after a few bottles of Chateau Toynbee (a very expensive nose and getting more full bodied by the day) is vaguely forgivable and can be spun as a misspeak or “taken out of context”. Nobody would believe it but it least it gives Number 10 wriggle room to disown it at PMQS. But if this minister does have an agenda he really has to go. We are reaching a crucial stage before the referendum where the YES camp is building a little momentum. Not much, but enough to cause a few jitters. This sort of crass incompetence or venal vanity can’t be tolerated. Whoever this idiot is, even if they were naive enough to think that they were being helpful, has really got to go. He (or she as I have no firm evidence of who the poor booby is) has just thrown a lifeline to the slippery and totally shameless Salmond who will milk this for all it is worth accusing Osborne and Cameron of deceiving the Scottish people. This is a very bad case of premature ejockulation.
Actually, it’s a bit of a no brainer. If a single currency is going to work you have to have a single fiscal and economic policy. If you don’t? Well just look at the Euro fiasco. But the SNP aren’t interested in a debate about the facts, just exploiting raw emotion.
No doubt there will be the conspiracy theorists suggesting that this is a Coalition plot to assuage those opinion polls that suggest 44% of the Scots disbelieve any pronouncements from Westminster. Now that really is bonkers. You don’t throw a life raft to a man you have just succeeded in throwing overboard. Unless you want to hit him with it. So some deft footwork a quick blood sacrifice is probably needed. All though the Salmond line would be, “sacked for telling the Scottish people the truth”. Certain ministers really should not be allowed out without with a carer.
And now something which will accelerate the pulse of the nation. A reshuffle!!!!! I suppose now is as good as any to dead head the dead heads. These things are really only excite sad people like me. But we are nearly year away from the election and the opinion polls are becoming interesting. For the last year the daily YOUGOV poll has given Labour an average lead of about 6%. The the last two days that lead has been 1%. It is early days but this may not just be a blip but a trend. So how should the momentum be kept going?
Well, remember that in May UKIP will do rather well in the Euro elections due to most people thinking that being an MEP is an expensive irrelevance. So to leave any reshuffle until afterwards looks like a panic measure. So best get it out of the way over Easter when the House is up.
Like everybody else who writes about this sort of musical chairs I haven’t got a clue who is on the up and who is on the down. The gender balance is always an obsession. As a Tory rule of thumb most of the the hopeless women end up in Cabinet and those who are rather good news do not. This may change. The other consideration is the Star Wars element, the Tory right versus the modernisers. I leave Theresa May out of this one because although she is of the right she is an exceptionally effective Home Secretary.
In a perfect world David Cameron should be able to draw up a list of those he would feel uncomfortable standing next too when there is a full moon. Here’s my check list.
Chris Grayling. His department is a shambles with the likes of G4s and Serco under investigation for fraud. The rather vindictive and pointless banning of books and greetings cards being sent to prisoners does not sit well with the public.
O’Patz (Oi, Ann Treneman I thought of this one first!). The Stella Artois of Cabinet as he is “Reassuringly Expensive”. Football playing badgers and the floods fiasco are costing the Treasury a fortune. One of the few ministers who is so dim that not only to you hear the cogs whirring when he answers questions you can actually see them.
Phillip Hammond. Very bright, very ambitious and with the delivery with the charm of a speaking clock, the smile of a brass plate on a coffin and the easy manner of a mortician. The MOD is in lock down and his civil servants despise him. Oh, the stories I could tell!!
Maria Miller. Dear God!!
Theresa Villiers. Jesus!!
I really can’t go on. Matron, my medication please and don’t spare the horses.