Wednesday, October 17, 2007


80% of the front page of my newspaper yesterday, Tuesday, was dominated by a lurid report sparked by Dawn Primarolo, the well known anagram and part time Public Health Ministress, that, as part of the most highly oppressed section of the population, I am now being targeted as a potentially “hazardous” consumer of alcohol – the Middle-Class Vice.

Someone has worked out that the worst areas in the country for consuming “hazardous” quantities of alcohol are Runnymede and Harrogate, where apparently 26.4% of the adults living there are potential abusers. Don’t ask how they work out the last decimal place here, ‘cos I’ve no idea. But this is such an important revelation that four fifths of the complete Front Page is given over to it.

However, skulking away, at the top right hand corner of the front page is a pithy little comment, occupying 3.04% of the remaining 20% of the page’s area, and totalling 46 words, noting that Sir Menzies Campbell had resigned as leader of the Lib-Dems.

Hang on a minute. This guy is (or was, as of 6.30pm on Monday) the leader of the party that polled 5,981,874 votes out of a total of 27,110,727 votes cast in the 2005 Election in the whole of this country – that’s 22.1% of the electorate. Call me old fashioned but I think that’s a bit newsworthy.

Yes, the Lib-Dems seem to have got themselves in an almighty tangle in the manner of his going. We seem to have Simon Hughes and Vince Cable appearing on the doorstep of the Cowley Street Party Headquarters, apparently doing a pretty good impression of a couple of Division 2 undertakers, announcing, in solemn terms, Ming’s departure, with no Ming to be seen. Which gem of a PR person planned that one?

But none of that is any reason for the Times to pop a 46 word “obituaryette” on the Front page, and carry on as usual. They’d clearly had the time to do the in depth three page spread because it’s all there on Pages 2-4. So it wasn’t one of those stories which blew just at the wrong time of day. They presumably thought that unruly, Chianti slurping Runnymede housewives were more newsworthy than the sudden demise of third most important Party leader in the land.

Perhaps that’s the reason why he’s been pushed out.

He always struck me as a man with more than his fair share of integrity and honesty - commodities which seem to be in rather short supply in Parliament these days.


PS – As far as Lib-Dem future is concerned, is there anyone out there, apart from their respective Mums, who could honestly put hand on heart and either name or identify from a “Usual Suspects” line-up (and without a Chizz sheet), any of the potential Lib-Dem Leader replacements?

No, me neither.


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