Sunday, March 29, 2009

Joke Government Is No Laughing Matter

Rage has turned to ridicule as hapless ministers are rounded on, turning them into a figure of fun in just another nice 'n sleazy Sunday. But the joke of a government is no laughing matter. 

The Orange Party has long pondered whether it would be the men in grey suits or white coats who would come and take Him away. 

Last week a raft of political commentators came out to view recent events as a watershed, with the old spectre of a leadership challenge, killed off with Mandy's return, now rearing its head.

Borrowing Brown's bonkers crusade for a painful cure-all fiscal stimulus had been blown out of the water leaving him at odds with the Bank of England boss, his chancellor and most of the world.  

It couldn't get any worse could it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is y-e-s. 

Brown's Save The World ego tour and hyped-up London G20 plan is in tatters. Determined to stick the boot in, Germany's chancellor Merkel wrecked his plans for a borrowing stimulus, with a resounding Nein to a New Deal.  “I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she thundered. 

Dirty tricks continued with the Germans leaking a draft communiqué of this week's G20 summit, trashing Brown's discredited blueprint for a £1.4 trillion worldwide spending boost.

Both are posted up by huge US website Drudge, in a sideways swipe at Brown and Obama and for all the world to see. 

But what caught the eye of the Orange Party was a press briefing ahead of the G20 summit exposing the hypocrisy of an exhausted Brown, willing to say one thing to placate an American audience, then another for the folks back home. 

The New York Times described it as a "out of this world experience". 

The Sunday Times is continuing its relentless crusade to expose Brown's old Goat Lord Myners’ tax affairs, turning both him and his pal Brown into a couple of old cronies but that is not where the danger lies for the government.

Instead it will be the damaging revelations over two homes secretary Smith’s husband’s penchant for pay-per-view porn on the taxpayer.

Already under fire and under investigation in a two homes scandal, Smith's now had her family's dirty washing hung out in public by the Express competing with the Mail on just another sleazy Sunday.

The sight of her beleaguered husband forced to come out and apologise to the assembled hacks was a sorry spectacle and the shame is set for a front page splash in tomorrow's Telegraph

Under normal circumstances, hiring a couple of porno films whilst Smith was not at home, would have aroused a little titter at breakfast and deserved to have been buried inside the News of the Screws.

But  that expense claim was  made  from a home secretary already under scrutiny for fiddling her second homes expenses and having the cheek to claim for everything - including the kitchen sink. And that comes on top of employment minister Tony McNulty, up to his neck in  a similar scam.

The credibility of the home secretary is now in tatters. How can Smith be taken seriously when launching one of her holier-than-thou crusades against pornography and prostitution? Smith popped up from nowhere and was handed the poisoned chalice of home secretary. Now she stands no chance of holding onto her Redditch seat at the next general election. 

Meanwhile, MPs are breaking out in a sweat over the commons publication of a full list of expenses claimed by MPs, due out in the summer, with New Labour MPs caught in the 'McNulty Triangle' shown up to be amongst the most expensive and worst culprits. 

The problem for ministers and indeed the government is that ridicule highlighted by James Forsyth over at the Spectator. He points out a government can recover from rage but not ridicule. And the damage can be far-reaching:

"Newspapers will be falling over themselves to pick up on even the slightest minor detail of the G20 summit to poke fun. "

And that's before the Angry Brigade or whatever they're called these days take to the streets, as police throw down a £7m taxpayer-funded security cordon, locking down the capital for a pointless  G20 charade. 

Ministers can often ride out the storm of sleaze but only for so long and only when there's a half respected prime minister whose inevitable backing often kills a story dead. Not anymore. 

The relentless exposing of ministers caught up in squalid expenses scams and sleaze are a Major sign of a government in decay. 

Rage and anger can be countered by ministers and spinners with a blinding array of facts to back up an argument however weak the case. But when that rage is replaced by ridicule the game is up. 

Thing can only get better or worse, depending on your political point of view. Meanwhile the country is going to the dogs and voters are fed up with a prime minister who is barking mad and a government whose credibility is being blown out of the water. 

The chances of the whistle being blown on the phoney general election war has just nudged that little bit closer. 

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