Former BERSERK SAFETY ELEPHANT, Mr Charles Clarke, has given a speech to the LSE saying it is time to start charging for the NHS.
Has he gone MAD?
Has he got BIRD FLU?
Or has he been HIT BY A CAR and sent BACK IN TIME to the EIGHTIES?!?!?!
At the other end of the Labour food chain, captain of the CREEPY-CRAWLY club, Mr David Millipede, was on Questionable Time last night, being badgered by Mr David Dimbledonkey.
Watching Mr Millipede talk down to the audience it was clear that he was trying to recapture some of the MAGIC of the young Lord Blairimort. Compassion. Concern. Conscription. That sort of thing. The slightly pained expression at the terrible suffering that the government is inflicting. If only there was something he could do. It might work too, if it weren't for the fact that Mr Millipede works for the man responsible!
The first question was all about the huge media attention given whenever that nice but hard done by Mr Dr Reid calls down a terrorist raid in order to
Why DOES it need the Home Secretary to arrive in person, surrounded by a dozen armed police people surrounded by two dozen photographers and journalists to hear him muttering:
"We've caught them, my precious, caught them we have. Live and plumptious, like juicy fisheses, my precious…"
Lots of people get arrested without the Home Secretary turning up to take the credit personally.
Liberal Democrat Mr Hugs was on the panel, and he pointed out that this sort of LARGING IT UP in the limelight does incredible damage to the relationship between the police and the public.
And, he said, of nearly a thousand arrests made under the government's Terror Laws, only a hundred and twenty-some have been charged and a mere twenty-five convicted. If there are so VERY, VERY FEW actual convictions, why make such a VERY, VERY BIG fuss about all the arrests? Surely it is not just to TERRIFY THE BEJEZUS out of everyone!
Slowly and patronisingly, oozing sincerity like snake oil, Mr Millipede explained that the reason the government was sending in huge armies of TERROR POLICE to tear up local communities was because the most important thing was to protect those communities on the ground.
"Get on the GROUND! Get on the GROUND!" as the terror police shout at any terrorist or bookshop worker they happen to apprehend.
"Squish them and squash them, my precious," the Home Secretary may choose to interject, should he be around for a photo-op.
Mr Millipede tried on the sorrowful look that Lord Blairimort used to use when he was going to say something particularly outrageous.
"Mr Hugs ought to think on the fact that we can't have liberty and security," said Mr Millipede like he didn't know this was a cliché in the time of Benjamin Franklin.
Fortunately Ms Salma Yaqoob was there to point out that this was total piffle. Security only comes through liberty, she said. Giving people freedom reinforces the ties of community that are the only real route to security.
"The more you tighten your grip, Governor Millipede, the more star systems will slip through your fingers!" added, er, Princess Leia.
Huge applause for Mr Hugs and Ms Yakult. Dead Silence for Mr Millipede. I'm sure it didn't used to be that way for Lord Blairimort.
Still it was SIGNIFICANT to see that Mr Millipede is clearly trying to turn on the CHARM. Perhaps there is some sort of LEADERSHIP CONTEST in the offing, who can tell? He has even allowed someone to persuade him to shave off that BUM-FLUFF beard his has been trying to grow for the last twelve months!
Mr Dimbledonkey, on the other hand, had a completely different tree to bark up. He was convinced that he had caught Mr Millipede in some nonsense "gaffe".
(Even though my chum, top Liberal Democrat party animal, Mr Councillor Stephen Tall, has got there first with this story, I DID write my diary BEFORE seeing that!)
The question was whether it wasn't long past time that Lord Blairimort had been put
"People will be saying 'wouldn't it be great to have that Blairimort back because we can't stand that Gordon Frown'."
"Ah ha!" says Mr Donkey, "so you think Mr Frown is as bad as Lord Blairimort!"
This is just a game of trying to trip up the politician. It is playing with the words he used to try and get some other meaning out. And it is the sort of thing that makes parties turn their politicians into ROBOTS.
Journalists are the FIRST to complain that our politicians are all the same, bland and boring, and that there are no CHARACTERS any more. Well if you journalists are going to jump up and down on the heads of anyone who express themselves in poetic or colourful or just FUN language then WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
It is QUITE CLEAR that Mr Millipede meant that Lord Blairimort gets a lot of flak JUST for being PM and the same would apply to anyone.
OBVIOUSLY that means that MR Millipede is DELUSIONAL.
But the point to put to him is that lots of people have COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE reasons to think that Lord Blairimort is a liar and a criminal and not fit to serve COFFEE in the House of Commons.
You should challenge Mr Millipede on his BLANDISHMENTS; his sweeping ASSERTIONS that seek to excuse any faults of the PM; and his apparent preference to blame the ELECTORATE for Lord B turning out to be as trustworthy as Jeffrey Archer, as honest as Jonathan Aitken and as incorruptible as Neil Hamilton. All in one.
But don't try and imply he was making some coded criticism of Mr Frown.
Just as BOGUS was the whole idea of privatising the NHS, which was the kite that the retired safety elephant was flying on the Newsnight show.
Could it be that he really thought it was a good idea to start letting people going into hospital pay to be upgraded to FIRST CLASS?
My fluffy brain is not very good at thinking about these WEIGHTY ISSUES. So I have concentrated very hard to think about a simple example.
Some people have suggested using money as a way to discourage FRIVOLOUS use of the NHS's limited resources. The idea is to get people to pay a deposit, say a tenner, if they want to make a doctor's appointment. Your GP can refund you your money when you attend.
It MIGHT stop some people skipping appointments, I suppose. But it also seems that it would need a lot of stuff to make it work – how can you get a deposit over the phone from a person without a debit or credit card? You can't go having doctors handing out tenners, that would be a risk to them, not to mention silly. Not to mention the way that people often don't so much MISS their appointments but – what with being sick AND having to cope with public transport – arrive five minutes late and are told that they've lost their place.
Of course if you just CHARGE people a tenner, that's a lot easier… except of course it is BASICALLY a tax on being ILL. A bit like those eye and dental check up charges that we want to abolish.
Mr Clarke had a wheeze about getting the money off of people's insurance. So that would be people who've paid their tax for the NHS already AND paid their insurance too then get an insurance hit so their premiums go up AGAIN – that's pretty much triple taxing the people who are being GOOD and insuring themselves. Nice plan, fatty.
Had the safety elephant thought all this through?
No of course not: this was an exercise in creating HEADLINES not policies, and – ooh look – mission accomplished!
"Clarke backs NHS charging" wails the Grauniad.
"Let's charge for NHS and schools" trumpets the Hellograph.
Just like Mr Steven "Pants on" Byers last August floating the idea of abolishing Inheritance Tax, all this unspeakable in pursuit of the unthinkable is about putting Lord Blairimort on the front page and putting Mr Balloon in a real BIND.
Deftly, Mr Clarke slipped his size-twelve stiletto in:
"The Labour are willing to consider all the options to keep Britain's services working. The Conservatories don't have any policies at all."
This is Lord Blairimort's defence against TRIANGULATION. What is Mr Balloon supposed to do? If he comes up with a nice, tame, safe, non-barking health policy – okay, BIG if, if he comes up with a policy – but if he does, people will say: but why are you being LESS RADICAL than this person in the Labour? And if he comes up with something to the right of the safety elephant, well he's a nutty nut-nut Conservatory again, right?
From Lord Blairimort's point of view it is WIN-WIN. The media cannot attack HIM for being bonkers-in-the-nut. Yet he has succeeded in outflanking Mr Balloon on BOTH FLANKS. SIMULTANEOUSLY.
What does Mr Clarke get out of engineering this apparent train wreck? It is CRASH for PEERAGES?
Or does he believe that Lord Blairimort can use his MAGIC SPIN to conjure up the 41 signatures it would need for the safety elephant to challenge Mr Frown for the leadership?
"Look, Charles… you make yourself look an idiot do me a favour and… you know… I'll allow you to make yourself look an idiot do me another favour… how does that sound?"
"Will there be pies?"
"Well, uh huh, of course."
"Count me in, Lord B!"
BEASTLY, isn't it.