Monday, June 09, 2008

No End In Site

Very few things on this blog can be considered regular. One of the few consistent elements is my award for Stupidest Political Quote Of The Year, a prize which normally does a good job of being won before the summer recess. But even that isn't especially successful, particularly as it's not the snappiest title in the world and the acronym, SPQOTY, isn't much cop either.

So I've been wondering about a suitable name for it. Eponymisation is clearly a non-starter as the going rate for something like that is one charitable foundation and a councillor's allowance doesn't quite stretch to that. First winners are normally a fairly safe bet, except in this case it was Ed Balls and that might make the inevitable future trophy somewhat difficult (or at the very least family-unfriendly). And then there's the easy way out, which is to call it the Scunner Broon Award and have done with it; after all, he's said enough stupid things this year to win it ten times over.

That however has its own problems. For starters, there's the question of whether the rules should allow for the SPQOTY for 2008 to be something said in 2007. I mean, for all that;

“We could have fought an election on the issue of competence”

Was flaming daft last October, it's positively ten feet over Neptune now; rarely has a political epitaph been so comprehensively and rapidly produced.

More importantly, however, I have to ask myself whether it actually meets the criteria for the award; insanely stupid though it was, the present Government's competence (or more accurately their utter lack thereof) is no laughing matter for millions of people.

For all the calamity, however, I've rarely believed for a second that any of it might lead to the Supreme Leader's departure from Downing Street. As they proved with the Blair debacle, the Labour Party just isn't psychologically cut out for the idea that a member of the Party could perform badly enough to overcome the bonds of collective loyalty; heck, in a party so deluded that some members of its student wing believe that Alan Johnson (yes, the same Alan Johnson who pushed through top-up fees) is the saviour of the Party's left-wing ideals, anything is possible.

I mention all this because, despite all this, I'm starting to wonder whether Gordon can actually beat the odds and get himself kicked out. Discounting all the standard extreme possibilities (generally the ones that feature animals and/or bondage equipment), there are things he could do that even a Labour backbencher's self-interest would struggle to avoid.

The largest category of these is probably the “Don't Vote For Us If...”s. Perhaps understandably, elected politicians can throw away thousands of votes without worrying each other, so long as those votes are statistical; it's only when the discarded votes are directly identifiable that things go wrong.

Which is why I was surprised that Gordon chose this juncture to announce that he favours the use of new sites for the construction of nuclear power stations. The government's new-found commitment to new nuclear build has as yet posed little threat to anything, largely because no-one in Whitehall seems to have grasped that in order for it to happen they have to reach beyond the warm words and actually, you know... do something about it. But at least until now the “threat” has been to existing power station sites, where local opposition will be limited thanks to community experience of the existing facilities.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with the policy; if we want to move from looking for a low-carbon economy to a zero-carbon economy, we will need more nuclear than we have at the moment and that will mean exploring new sites. Nevertheless, as a piece of politics it's a calamitous announcement; without any qualification as to specific sites that are or aren't being considered... well, put simply, “Nowhere Is Safe From Gordon's Nuclear Nightmare”.

Is Brown's departure likely? Not especially. But if he continues to show a propensity to employ shovels while already well below ground level, particularly when the material being removed is great clumps of voters, he may have one last shot at being a history-making Prime Minister, if not necessarily in the way he might desire...

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