As always, Boris Johnson cuts to the chase with a pithy analysis of the current 'spat' (aka kids throwing toys out of prams) between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Now I can't see me voting Labour under almost any circumstances, but I can certainly see the difference between the spinmeister Blair and his dour Chancellor. Of course Brown is fond of artful spinning, too, and once you have read the detail (and analyses) behind his various Budget statements, one quickly comes to the conclusion that one has been 'mugged', fiscally speaking. I suppose the difference between the two is that Blair presents a [superficially] somewhat more acceptable facet of left-politics in the UK, not that left-politics is ever acceptable of course.
Whether this latest proxy row between Blair and Brown means that Boris's Party stands a cat in h..ls chance of winning a general election this Spring, if that's when it is, is highly questionnable. I doubt John Reid (whom I heard on Radio 4 this lunchtime, urging at least one of these two colleagues to pipe down) will have to get used to life without a ministerial car anytime soon. I also heard Neil Kinnock opining Brown's centrality to the whole Labour 'project' - highlighting just why Blair cannot simply get rid of Brown. What about the LibDems then? No, really? Well, on present form, I see both the Tories and the LibDems gaining at Labour's expense - but I believe it most likely they will be able to continue with a reduced, but probably workable, majority after the the projected election. Assuming the two gents in question can contain their mutual irritation at least a little.
My choice is a bleak one; my natural instincts lean toward the Conservatives but, for reasons readers of this blog are well aware of, it is highly unlikely I could coerce my finger to put the 'x' in their box for the present, not to mention that I live in a part of the country where Conservatives are a pretty rare phenomenon, in any case, so my vote is probably of little consequence; I dislike intensely anything even vaguely associated with 'socialism', so that rules out Labour and perhaps the LibDems for me, too. So it will be a choice between abstaining completely, or spoiling my ballot paper by writing 'none of these' across it, or voting for one of the inconsequential 'joke' candidates who might pop up. 3pm is lunch-time in this house, so I'll pop off now for that pre-lunch glass of madeira.
UPDATE: (Tuesday 11JAN05 10.50 GMT) A quite extraordinanry interview this morning with John Prescott, Deputy PM, on BBC Radio4 'Today' - listen to it by clicking on the link in the right panel here (for the rest of today, after that on the 'Listen Again' link in the left column on the same page). The Parliamentary Labour Party had, it seems, a pretty heated meeting last evening when back-benchers and some more senior people apparently called upon Blair and Brown to work together. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that everyting said in Robert Peston's soon to be published book, Brown's Britain: How Gordon Runs the Show, serialised in The Sunday Telegraph a couple of days ago, is largely accurate. However, the comment I want to make here is about John Prescott himself. He is often characterised as being something of a dinosaur and a buffoon who mangles his words. That has largely been my view, too, but this morning he showed himself very equal to James Naughtie's 'interrogation' - he is either a lot cleverer than most people have ever given him credit for, or he was very well briefed in advance. I tend to think it is a bit of both, but probably more of the former than the latter. Whatever one thinks of John Prescott's politics, and I would probably agree with very little of what he says in this area, there is no doubt that, for a senior politician, he has more integrity than most. He was blunt this morning about the antics of his two colleagues, but about many others, too. All in all, a pretty good performance. Mind you, not everyone is so disposed to be as charitable as me, when it comes to discussing Prescott (link thru The England Project). I can't quarrel, though, with Pollard's contention that Prescott is incompetent, however well he may be learning to handle himself in radio interviews.