Yesterday has left me feeling a bit Blaired out, but there’s no getting away from it all; Charles Clarke’s intervention, denouncing Brown for failing, as Clarke saw it, to stop the rebellion and, even worse, allowing himself to grin while there was a photographer in the area — has certainly shattered the truce.
“A lot of people are very upset and cross about that. It was absolutely stupid, a stupid, stupid thing to do.”
fulminates our Charlie.
As several people have pointed out, Charles Clarke accusing someone of stupidity is a bit rich; Rachel North has many amusing things to say about the man who so rude to her father — Mr Clarke doesn’t seem to have changed with age, by the way; my late father was a colleague, though not quite so high in the civil service mandarinate, of Mr Clarke’s papa.
Clarke senior apparently used to dread his son’s visits to the department to be taken out for lunch by his dad back when Junior was President of the National Union of Students; apparently it wasn’t so much that he used to turn up ‘making even you look decently turned out’ (given dad’s views on my sartorial style at the time, that’s saying something), which wasn’t particularly thoughtful of someone who was going to be treated to an expensive lunch at pater’s club, but that he was always guaranteed to be gratutiously rude to everyone he enountered — the ministry doormen and so forth.
Clarke’s accusations of stupidity caused Mr Eugenides to raise an eyebrow, reminding him of how a columnist’s comment that Clarke’s treatment of Rachel’s father showed nothing ‘to make the headmistress of his Lake Geneva finishing school beam with pride’
prompted a 450-word letter to the newspaper in question from Charles himself. It is difficult to imagine a more excruciating sentence than the one which ended the very first paragraph of the rebuke, well before he troubled to engage himself with the serious charge being levelled. “His statement that I attended ‘a Lake Geneva finishing school’,” blustered the home secretary, “is truly bizarre.
Then, as Nosemonkey points out, Clarke does seem a trifle inconsistent here, engaging in infighting a week after he warned against it, having two months previously been going hammer and tongs and his successor in the Home Office.
Meanwhile, though, The First Post may have spotted a glitch with Mr Blair’s timetable that we’ve neglected:
Imagine a bad opinion poll just before the Labour
Party conference, say, putting Tory leader David Cameron even further
ahead of Blair. How will jittery Labour MPs in the marginals take that?
But is everyone missing something? Even more of a danger is a date in the PM’s diary that those in his inner circle know and dread. It’s with the police. And it’s about cash for peerages.
The likelihood is that Scotland Yard will come calling – with impeccable timing – just before party conference opens on September 24.