Friday, March 9, 2007

Has Ming played a bit of a flanker?

We seem to have been in a bit of a spin, in the last week. It seems that Menzies will draw a line under the 'confusion' at the Welsh spring conference. Just let me check I've got the sequence of events right:
  1. Menzies says last weekend what he expects from Brown in the "five tests".
  2. You could say that someone (A) span (if that is the past tense of spin) this as our demands for a coalition deal, noting that PR is absent from the list. Otherwise, you could say that the speech was explicit in this regard anyway, so it was Ming's fault anyway. In the scope of that latter scenario you could also add that someone (B) span that someone (A) span the story.
  3. That 'someone A' is suggested by Iain Dale to allegedly, conceivably, possibly and arguably be Mark Littlewood, LibDem Head of Media, although this is strongly contested in the comments of the same posting.
  4. Said Mark Littlewood confirms his intention, first stated last November, to leave his job in two months time
  5. Menzies takes advantage of major speech to underline that his belief in PR is 'absolute'.
You might detect that I am a mite confused. Correct. If you strip away all the arcane onion-like machinations, you are left with two basic observations:

a) It seems that in the political game, the interpretational equivalent of the width of a fag paper can separate triumph and disaster.

b)A bit of a flanker may have been played. That is, something seems to have been smuggled through into the public domain under the cover of all the smoke of the last week. Since I started supporting the Liberals while in short trousers, I always thought, and still think, that PR for Commons elections would be the price of any coalition deal. I suppose that didn't stop it not being delivered by the murky LibLab pact in the seventies. But Paddy Ashdown, using his normal florid language, still thinks it is the price of one now:

...You know the old phrase in English - 'If you dine with the Devil, you take a long spoon' - I would not dine with God if PR was not on the menu, but I would dine with the Devil if it was.

It seems that the Holy Grail of PR may have been quietly demoted to the sidelines. Goodness knows. I think I am due for a lie-down in my darkened room.

UPDATE: I thank James Graham for the illumination he has exercised on these events, which is timely and resulted in me making some late changes to this piece.

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