...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 2768: The Millipede Code


Well, it's not VERY coded!

Mr Millipede writes in the Grauniad:

"Make ME Prime Monster!!!!"

Okay, he doesn't ACTUALLY say that, but he does say:

"…in government, unless you choose sides, you get found out. New Labour won three elections by offering real change, not just in policy but in the way we do politics. We must do so again."

Now he's covered his bottom by putting that after a big go at the Conservatories… and yet… look at that emphasis on "NEW Labour"; look at that emphasis on "REAL change"; look at that emphasis on "getting FOUND OUT".

You don't need to be Mr Dan Brown to figure out what the CRYPTIC CLUES add up to. And it's NOT numberwang.

The article is very CAREFULLY worded to be both completely supportive and totally without mention of Mr Frown. THAT'S telling all on its own.

Added to that is the implicit criticism of the current regime's approach to, er, criticism… "When people hear exaggerated claims, either about failure or success, they switch off" …all collectively phrased so as pointedly NOT to point the finger.

And then, just to show up the Prime Monster further, there is a critique of the Conservatories that easily outplays Mr Frown's usual style.

Where Mr Frown responds to Conservatory attack with clunking fists of statistics – what Mr Andrew Rawnsley often refers to as the Prime Monster's "tractor production in Ukraine" technique – here Mr Millipede takes each Conservatory nostrum in turn – crime, unemployment, asylum seekers – and says "no, they are wrong and we have dealt with it". It's actually rather depressing that he can go through the Conservatories' wish list saying "done that, done that, definitely done that…", but you've got to admit it is DEFTLY done.

Mr Millipede isn't STUPID.

No, don't LAUGH. I realise that he wants to run the Labour Party so he might seem a little ODD, but taking that into account he must still realise what he's doing.

Of course he's taken the DENY EVERYTHING option NOW, but, I mean, what did he THINK it would look like?

Try THIS scenario on for size…

Let us assume that Mr Frown is out of the picture. The Millipede goes into a leadership campaign promising a FRESH New NuLabour AND a general election immediately (or by immediately he means within six months). He gets to be Prime Monster (for a bit) and it stops the rot in the Labour's core support. They lose a hundred seats rather than two hundred and Mr Millipede gets to stay on as leader because losing was inevitable by this point and Mr Frown still gets the blame. Mr Balloon flounders through a four-year term beset by economic woes and Mr Millipede promises to ride to the rescue in 2014.

Well, it is a BIT far-fetched… but it might be convincing ENOUGH to get the Labour backbenchers onside…

That's why everyone's in a pre-Silly Season tizzy. It's just credible enough that they're all getting excited at the prospect that he just might do it.

But don't bet the farm on another Labour Prime Monster JUST YET.

What is rather more likely is that Mr Millipede has just taken UMBRAGE at Mr Frown. In particular, the Prime Monster's return to his old Secret Stalin form, using the "Black Arts" (or "briefing Michael White of the Grauniad" as it's called these days) to put the HEX on those he sees as rivals.

Obviously Mr White is a COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT journalist but if Mr Frown wants a quiet KICKING to be delivered then, quicker than you can say "Grant Shapps", Mr White is willing to SOCK-PUPPET for Downing Street.

Watch out for the sucker-punches halfway through:

"Jack Man O'Straw is mistrusted and did not risk a run for deputy leader last year."

That's ONE…

"David Millipede, so it is claimed, finds the burden of the Foreign Office heavy enough to have contemplated resignation, not a coup."

…that's TWO…

"Realistically, they are the only options."

…and THREE is a low blow to Ms Harriet Harpy!

(Mind you, some people think that Postman Pat Alan Johnson is surely the more dangerous one!)

These are the sort of tactics that Mr Frown employed last year to make sure that 313 out of 353 Labour drones nailed themselves to his mast, closing off the possibility of a leadership contest.

And last year, Mr Millipede knuckled under and was a GOOD BOY. This year, it would appear, he is a bit less willing to take a rap on the knuckles for something that is basically the Prime Monster's fault (i.e. Mr Frown being a rubbish Prime Monster).

So it's not a Cabinet Coup, it's a GIRLY SPAT.

Mr Alistair Henchman used to say that if a story ran for more than three days you were in trouble. This is day FIVE of the "Gordo Gotta Go Show" and the ghost of INEVITABLE DESTINY looks to be lurking around the door to Number 10.

On the other fluffy foot, the LAST time that the press all got this excited about the prospect of an election… Mr Frown let them down. A salutary lesson for Mr Millipede there: if he wants to march them all up to the top of the hill he had better – to mix my metaphor – have something on his flagpole for them to salute when they get there. Or else they will be calling this Millipede's "Portillo Moment". (It sounds like a continental chocolate, but it's actually the precise point where your order for a bank of telephones reveals how far you got ahead of yourself.)

Incidentally, Mr Millipede opens his article with the remark:

"In the aftermath of Labour's third successive defeat at the 1959 election…"

I have to point out that the Labour only suffered ONE defeat AT the 1959 election. (Having suffered one defeat in 1955 and another in 1951, this WAS the third successive election in which they were defeated. But there were NOT three successive elections IN 1959.)

Now it MAY just be me being excessively picky, but is it REALLY too much to expect the FOREIGN SECRETARY to be able to write in good English?


Jennie said...

I object to the use of the term "girly spat": I don't WANT /either/ David MillerBand /or/ Gordon Brown in MY gender: you can keep both the useless idiots in YOUR gender, thank you very much :P

(it is at this point my entire joke crumbles for anyone who has been reading me blogging about how manly I am of late)

Millennium Dome said...

Ms Jenny, you are RIGHT.

"Girly" is far too BUTCH a term to use about our current Cabinet!