This was the week that…

Andy Coulson must have realised, surely, his time at Downing Street is going to be limited.  I don’t know enough about libel law to start speculating on how much Coulson might have known about illegal phone-tapping activity at the News of the World, but it doesn’t really matter anyway.  Either he sanctioned the practice, or he was indifferent to the methods his own staff used to get the stories he printed.  I don’t think Cameron will sack him – when he does it will be the official end of his honeymoon period – but would be shocked if Coulson hasn’t found himself alternative employment within a year.

…the media decided to create a global controversy that damaged relations between Muslims and the West.  Yes, Pastor Terry Jones has his share of the blame too, but why do we even know about this idiot?  Insane people do insane stuff all the time.  This isn’t news.  Of course journalists will try to pretend that Barack Obama made this a global news story by commenting on it – the BBC’s Mark Mardell is particularly guilty of this.  Not true, Mark.  He had to comment because people like you made it a global news story, for no good reason.

…Vince Cable decided to pursue a senseless privatisation of Royal Mail.  The service has its problems, most prominently a pensions deficit and competition both from new providers and new providers of information.  Which of these challenges is privatisation supposed to address?  There’s no real analysis of what a postal service needs to be today.  The government wants someone to come in do the dirty work of raising prices and cutting pay that it’s not brave enough to do directly.  When I say ‘the government’, of course I mean the Conservative Party.  The Lib Dems opposed full privatisation in their manifesto (that’s a document which might come in handy from time to time in the next 5 years, I suspect). 

Robert Chote got himself appointed chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility.  Well, George Osborne couldn’t have given it to anyone else, could he?  After Osborne tried to mask an obvious political appointment (Sir Alan Budd) in the name of making economic forecasting independent, and his appointee decided to resign after bring seen to act in a political way, he had no choice.  Now he’s stuck with a man whose think-tank has spent recent months pointing out just how regressive the government’s plans are.  Serves him right.

…Green Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas argued MPs could job share, as a way of opening up politics to women.  Maybe it’s just her way of trying to double the number of Green MPs from one to two.  It’s an idea that comes from good intentions, but it’s very silly.  Think about it for five seconds and it is obviously unworkable.  Maybe someone could figure out the necessary contortions to make it feasible, but is this really the Greens’ priority?  The shame for Lucas is that this is one of the few times (maybe even the first) she has managed to make national headlines since her election.


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