Charles Kennedy as the red squirrel of British Politics

red squirrel Kennedy.jpg

Only Charles Kennedy is capable of bubble-gumming this coalition together

Where would muddle-headed mugwumps be without Charlie?

In this season of goodwill and fellowship I am well aware, O kind and loyal readers, of the many calls there have already been on your charity, and I know how magnificently you respond. But I want today to draw your attention to the plight of a victim scarcely less deserving than the causes for which you recently rang The Daily Telegraph Christmas appeal.

He is far more winsome than the baby seals of the Canadian ice floes, with their voracious appetites for cod. He is more endangered than the Giant Panda, whose laid-back style he so brilliantly emulates. He is the red squirrel of British politics, a cheerful addition to a drab landscape, about to be ruthlessly extinguished by his grey-suited brethren.

Here he is, the fellow who actually increased the Lib Dems’ representation in the Commons at the last election, and he is the victim of brutal briefings by “unnamed” Liberal MPs. “Charlie’s gotta go,” say these nameless ones. “He’s in the last chance saloon,” they say, adding, “ho, ho.”

Why are they so nervous of naming themselves, these unnamed Liberal MPs? It’s not as though their names would be recognised by anyone else. The only distinctively named Lib Dem MP is my friend Lembit Opik, the brilliant asteroid spokesman, and he is one of the few to have had the guts to speak out for Charlie.


The rest are unnamed and brutal. It is pitiful to watch. And that is why I hereby declare myself the founding president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Charles Kennedy, and hope that as many of you as possible will feel moved to subscribe.

It is not just that Charlie is a thoroughly nice chap, which he is. It is not merely that he has been known to try to supplement his parliamentary rations with appearances on television quiz shows. My reasons for sympathy are partly that he is known to have a fondness for the gift of Dionysus, and that is to be defended.

We live in an age of easy, gifted telegenic politicians who never put a foot wrong or slur their words on Newsnight, and it is therefore magnificent that the Liberal Democrats continue to have a leader with a Churchillian ability to slot it away. But above all I am slapping a preservation order on Charlie Kennedy, and listing him as a Grade One landmark of our culture, because he, and he alone, represents a sizeable electoral minority.

To understand the modern Lib Dems, you have to understand a key feature of human psychology. The world is full of people who have pretty strong views about politics, and who are fairly sure where they stand on the spectrum. There are millions of people out there who want freedom, lower taxes, less regulation, less spin, the maintenance of Britain’s democratic institutions, a culture of enterprise that encourages people to get on as far as they can, with decent public services and a net beneath which no one can fall.

These tend to be Conservatives. Then there is another huge group of people who seem to believe in higher taxes, more public spending, regulation, bossiness, control, surrendering the rebate to Brussels without any reform of the CAP and horrible bendy buses that crush cyclists. These people, by and large, vote Labour.

But there is a third group, a minority, but a minority that possesses a characteristic human psychological deformity. They can’t stand the pettiness of intellectual consistency. They want it all ways, and are capable of holding two mutually contradictory positions at once. Their policy on cake is pro-having it and pro-eating it, and they need a party that reflects them and their politically schizophrenic personalities.

That is why it is so vital that we continue with Charlie Kennedy’s Liberal Democrats and all their hilarious doublethink. There are not many Lib Dems in Parliament, but even in that tiny group they incarnate dozens of diametrically opposing positions. You want to know what the Lib Dem policy is on taxation, for instance, and you want to know whether they are for or against a 50 per cent tax rate. One half of your cerebrum thinks it is quite right that the rich should pay more; the other lobe thinks tax is quite high enough already. You are a perfect Lib Dem, a mass of contradictions, and your party supplies exactly what you are looking for.

Here is Chris Huhne MEP, their economics wallah, reported in this paper on Sept 20, 2005. “The 50p top rate of tax is now looking in international terms quite uncompetitive… and there are alternative ways of being redistributive.”

And here is Sir Menzies Campbell, reported on the very same day in the same paper: “I don’t have any difficulty with a 50 per cent tax rate and I see no reason why those earning over £100,000 should not make a greater contribution.” Fantastic! Taken together, those policies cancel each other out and amount to babble, and the same goes for Lib Dem policies on the NHS. Nick Clegg MP says: “I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you need to do to make it a more responsive service… frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leaves much to be desired.”

And here is Evan Harris MP: “Party spokesmen have to understand that the language we use when talking about reform is vital and talk of breaking it up is not helpful.” And so on. Vincent Cable wants to tax and spend. David Laws is against tax and spend. David Laws says let the market play a role in health. Steve Webb says don’t.

Only Charles Kennedy is capable of bubble-gumming this coalition together. It is now quite clear that if he were to go, he would be replaced by someone who might come perilously close to endorsing one position or the other, rather than keeping up the amazing Lib Dem strategy of endorsing both. The party would be taken over either by the likes of Mark Oaten and Nick Clegg, who seem in many ways to be very similar to David Cameron’s Tories; or else it would go Left under Simon Hughes and the rest of the tofu-munching busybodies.

Like splitting the hydrogen atom, this microscopic party will be suddenly and violently resolved into a vaguely Tory proton, and a vaguely Labour electron. And where will that leave the muddle-headed mugwumps who want high tax and low tax at once? A huge minority, the politically schizoid, will be deprived of representation. It is not fair.

Save Charlie Kennedy this Christmas.

80 thoughts on “Charles Kennedy as the red squirrel of British Politics”

  1. If I were you, Boris, I wouldn’t be founding such an agency as the RSPCK – wouldn’t it be beneficial to your party to see Kennedy go sooner, rather than later? That way, he could be presented as ‘running scared’ from your new Head Boy, David Cameron and would give your lot a brilliant opportunity to occupy the Lib Dems’ political space, as you’re attempting to do with Labour.

    Better for Kennedy to go now (from a Tory point of view), when the attention’s all on him, rather than a few months (or years) down the line, when your party’s back in the swing of ripping itself apart from the inside and is thus unable to capitalise on other parties doing the same, methinks.

  2. Kennedy isn’t the man he used to be, I’m afraid. I remember thinking only a few weeks ago whether he actually was still the leader of the LibDems. Someone who can’t generate headlines isn’t really good for the party.

  3. Apologies for this site being out of action for most of today. We have updated it to the latest Movable Type.

  4. I’ve been following Charlie for a while – he’s increased the LibDem fanbase, it’s true – but he hasn’t done much since the election. They’ve stagnated.

  5. Mumsy – perhaps he’s a bit Daddyish since the birth of his son and we should show him some compassion and support.

    I’d join the RSPCK – but hope Boris wouldn’t be labelled as archetypal Liberal …

  6. If Charles Kennedy is to be labelled as the red squirrel of British politics, the analogy should , surely, be extended to others. Who, for instance, takes the role of the grey squirrel, that interloper from across the pond?

    It’s no accident that the red squirrel has been ousted from its earlier habitats, and will even have to be be helped to survive by an outside agency, in some parts.

    A parallel might even be drawn to the British Government,( as the red S) , and the EU as the all consuming grey S. Tufty Blair is struggling at this very moment to show that Britain is , in fact , still there; if only just.

    You must look after your nuts, Charlie, you don’t want to get tangoed, or there will be one less young(ish )democratic Liberal having the ability to urge on the believers.

  7. ‘Their policy on cake is pro-having it and pro-eating it’.

    THAT, dear friends, is why I read Boris Johnson. Even though I have voted for assorted Liberal parties all my life.

  8. Mark, that is the second gushing endorsement of someone’s blogging efforts today. Don’t overdo it.
    If you must get into the mood for the time of year, take your lead from King Herod, or the innkeeper if that is too extreme.

  9. Vicus – consider it an antidote to this stuff I’m writing for a certain Scandinavian manufacturer. They’re not allowed to gush over there: it’s considered bad form.

    Besides, I’m hoping that if I suck up enough to Boris my youngest daughter won’t have to pay tuition fees when she finally decides to go to college.

    Oh. He’s only going to be in opposition. Damn.

  10. Boris on LibDems; methinks he misses the point

    I like Boris. On a political level, sometimes I read him and agree with every word, othertimes I disagree vehemently. Sometimes, like today, I chuckle at his attempt to play partizan, and note that he, like many others, completely misses the point.

  11. Boris wrote: “But there is a third group, a minority, but a minority that possesses a characteristic human psychological deformity. They can’t stand the pettiness of intellectual consistency. They want it all ways, and are capable of holding two mutually contradictory positions at once. Their policy on cake is pro-having it and pro-eating it, and they need a party that reflects them and their politically schizophrenic personalities.”

    Some people are capable of seeing both sides of an argument. That’s not schizophrenia.

    What’s truly awful is when everyone gets in lockstep behind one view, and all other views are dismissed out of hand. Political parties ought to debate within themselves, not hold to some rigid dogma.

  12. Mark Gamon: Do you know something we don’t? Is he changing racing colours in the near future?

    I listened to an interview , which Ming Campbell gave today,
    He answered all the questions , but he answered them his way.
    He said the Lib-Dem Party is standing square behind their Head.
    Which way will they push him, will he survive, or is he dead?

  13. “Political parties ought to debate within themselves, not hold to some rigid dogma.”

    Tell that to the Tories. The one guy not afraid to speak his mind on Europe and step ‘over the line’, Ken Clarke, is the one guy who could have made a real impact at the next election for them – but because of their refusal to change their spots and actually consider the other side’s point of view, the Tory MPs voted him off first in the leadership contest. Whoops.

  14. Idlex

    I do hope you are coping with this new updated Movable Type website ok —getting to know the new features.

  15. >Can we? How?[Mark Gamon]

    The way to do italic is to write something like [i]italicised words[/i], and the way to do bold is to write [b]boldfaced words[/b], but with ‘[‘ replaced by the ‘less than’ symbol, and ‘]’ replaced by ‘greater than’ symbol, to create what is sometimes called ‘angle brackets’ (and which I can’t get to appear in this post), so that you get italicised words and boldfaced words.

    Hope that helps. If I turn up anything else useful, I’ll let y’all know.

  16. And you can indent text, which is very handy at times.

      God And Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics,” By Former Senator Gary Hart. “The most compelling, cogent contemporary treatise for the separation of church and state in America that we have come across.”

    That’s done with ‘ul’ in place of ‘i’ or ‘b’. And you can also use several tags together to create indented, italicised, bold text:

      God And Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics,” By Former Senator Gary Hart. “The most compelling, cogent contemporary treatise for the separation of church and state in America that we have come across.”

    Whatever next?

  17. Thanks for that, Idlex, v useful! I love the way the BJ site keeps up to date with the times – well done administrators!


  18. “A parallel might even be drawn to the British Government,(as the red S), and the EU as the all consuming grey S.”

    Mac dear, I understood that the grey came from the US? And is naturally busy wiping out all competition.

  19. Nora ! The things you say! That was the point, but a change of Continents for the purpose of a ” parallel”

  20. It rather looks as if the Neanderthals are stirring in the dear old Labour Party. “Two Jags” doesn’t want to return to a first class and a second class education system. So we’re all in steerage then.

  21. He , the Pieman , said( as good as , anyway) that , since he was an 11+ failure, he would resist the return of any sort of school which exclusively catered for any children with an academic mind.
    City academies were , Acc. to Fatman, “merely Grammar Schools , in another guise”.

    Welcome to Jurassic Park: Old Labour Edition; complete with a sprinkling of class envy.

  22. Dear oh dear oh dear. Prescott says something a little antiquated, and we all rush for the protection of our stereotype comfort zones.

    Actually, Prescott is neither here nor there. His opinions are as coloured by the past as most of the people commenting on here. Jack Ramsey, for instance – how come a single-tier system automatically dumps us all into steerage? Couldn’t we dare to imagine and conceive a first-class education system that’s also single-tier? Or is your opinion of the human race really that low?

    Honest to God, I don’t know why we don’t all shoot ourselves and have done with it.

  23. Melissa dear. Have you been retrospectively editing posts?

    I didn’t manage to get an angle bracket into my post describing how to do italic and bold, and said so, but now one of the darn things has appeared in it (along with the name of the poster who asked how to do it).

    How did you manage to do that? I bet it started with an &.

  24. “Nora ! The things you say!”

    🙂

    It’s Christmas (or “The Holidays” or some such) and I’m exhausted by the serious stuff. I want to be utterly silly. Doesn’t anyone else feel the same?

  25. Nora – “Doesn’t anyone else feel the same?” – absolutely, and probably more often than society thinks permissable.

  26. You’re such a grump sometimes Mark, even if you do write good books.

    It may well be possible to imagine and even practically bring about such a single tier system as you suggest. However it isn’t here now and standards of education in real academic and vocational subjects are falling. As the levelling tendency propagates through to the universities, the same happens there. As a result we have a less meritocratic society because opportunities for more financially strapped people get smaller – no private tutors etc..

    Any single tier system that doesn’t propose the equivalent of a lobotomy for smarter children is going to have to be streamed. This is done to some extent but I hear stories all the time from well meaning Guardian readers about how things are tending to the bottom end of the standard in mixed ability classes.

    The comprehensive system we have is still largely based on the Crosland ideology and has nothing to do with a practical effort to deliver as far as possible to each school student an education that is a reasonable fit to their ability, prospects and personal development.

    Prescott may be a buffoon (indeed so may I). But his not entirely humourous call for class war still resonates amongst a swathe of people who can only see things through a chippy prism of doing the toffs down.

    Anyway he’s won my vote for that nice Mr. Cameron! Once Mr Blair’s gone the only people with an interest in voting Labour will be Polly Toynbee, Harold Pinter and the massed ranks of the educational and legal establishments.

  27. Truism: cream and dross rise to the top:Homogenisation put a stop to at least half of that.

    It’s often been said, many times many ways, as humans, we’re all born the same
    That’s just so much guff, no matter what’s said; we’re all different, including the name.
    We aren’t; never were; all born equal, each one is the product of genes,
    The seed of the flower of learning isn’t planted when you’re in your teens.

    Learning. The fact of the matter; can’t argue; it’s the flame of desire makes the man.
    If the parents’ indifference just won’t strike the spark, do you think that the Government can?
    Another base “truth” is the notion that one school system can cater for all,
    As long as we tend to be different, that “truth”, like old Humpty, will fall.

    As long as we’re ruled by committees; favoured method to Labour’s “fair play”,
    There’ll be no peaks and troughs, all are equal: how boring is all I can say

  28. “Once Mr Blair’s gone the only people with an interest in voting Labour will be Polly Toynbee, Harold Pinter and the massed ranks of the educational and legal establishments.”

    Now now, I can’t see that many people switching over to the Lib Dems.

  29. idlex said:

    Melissa dear. Have you been retrospectively editing posts?

    I didn’t manage to get an angle bracket into my post describing how to do italic and bold, and said so, but now one of the darn things has appeared in it (along with the name of the poster who asked how to do it).

    How did you manage to do that? I bet it started with an &.

    To get < you need to do &lt; (and I hope that comes out if this is HTML and not some preprocessor) and for > you do &gt;. To get & you do &amp;

    Hope this helps.

    ..d

  30. idlex said:

    Melissa dear. Have you been retrospectively editing posts?

    I didn’t manage to get an angle bracket into my post describing how to do italic and bold, and said so, but now one of the darn things has appeared in it (along with the name of the poster who asked how to do it).

    How did you manage to do that? I bet it started with an &.

    To get < you need to do &lt; (and I hope that comes out if this is HTML and not some preprocessor) and for > you do &gt;. To get & you do &amp;

    Hope this helps.

    ..d

  31. Sorry everybody. Didn’t mean to sound grumpy. And I thought I was being positive and visionary about the future development of the human race. I just hate it when people say we can’t change. It may take a long time (ask Mr Darwin) but we usually prove we can.

    Whatever. Please consider me full of the spirit of Christmas. And political consensus. I shall drink a silent toast to all the denizens of Boris Johnson’s blog on Chrissymas Daaaaay inna Mooornin’. Pass the roast parsnips, please.

    PS – Jack Ramsey – thank you.

  32. That didn’t work then. I’ve always used sq brackets: [i]italic[/i] but apparently not here.

    How’s it work again?

  33. Hurrah!

    It’s not the square brackets, Jaq. It’s the pointy ones that people use when they want to say ‘more than’ or ‘less than’.

    Whoever came up with HTML coding was NOT a typist.

  34. Mark

    I too have high hopes for the humans in all their differences and their ability to change.

    I trust you will be getting down to writing another work soon. You have a public sir!

    Happy Christmas to all (regardless of what you actually celebrate this time of year).

  35. Jack Ramsey – I promise to get down to another work (or rather get on with it) just as soon as I’ve stopped playing with all these exciting new features on the Boris Johnson website!

  36. I’ll try Jaq… Here goes.

    If you want a word to be in italics, you add…

    Left pointy bracket lower case i right pointy bracket BEFORE the word…

    Then…

    Left pointy bracket forward slash lower case i right pointy bracket AFTER the word.

    No spaces, by the way.

    For bold you do exactly the same but with a lower case b instead of the i.

    I don’t mean type it out exactly as I have written here. I mean do it like…

    {i}word-you-want-in-italic{/i}

    except the squiggly brackets in my example should be pointy brackets, like wot html understands. I can’t actually explain it with pointy brackets because then it does it without me wanting it to. If you see what I mean.

    We’ll get back to politics soon, I expect.

  37. yeah, I getcha,
    like this then
    (like wot HTML understands – and I’m supposed to know that am I?) Hopefully this’ll work then, thanks.

  38. Hmmm ….

    The purpose of the article is, of course, not to speak up for Charles Kennedy but to lower his standing by poking fun at him. Well – who knows? – maybe some Liberal voters read the Telegraph and perhaps they will be influenced. But, politically speaking, he looks like a dead man walking, anyway.

    But, having read the full text (if you can call it that) of Mr. Cameron’s speech to Lib- Dems “Everywhere” I have to say my opinion of him has taken a dramatic plunge.

    This is not because I have any particular regard for the Liberal Democrats. It’s teh content of the speech that is so off-putting. It’s not exactly Burke speaking to the House on 22 March 1775, is it? Is there even an attempt at thought in there?

    A sentence PER PARAGRAPH –

    … if that …

    … You’d find more of a connected thread in a leader in the …

    Sun newspaper.

    Wow, here’s a revelation:

    Things are changing.

    Yes, they usually are; it’s a habit things have. And his point is?

    What was the speech modelled on? – a spiv trying to sell snake oil at a fair?

    I don’t know David Cameron, but I doubt that he is stupid. Therefore, the only conclusion I can draw is that he thinks his intended audience is. Perhaps he is right – God help us all – but I really don’t like that. Is it too much to ask in a democracy that politicians do not talk down to the voters?

    I would just like one politician from one party address his hearers as equals and present a coherent argument to them not throw a pile of chopped up verbiage that has little paraphrasable sense and is little more than assertion and sloganizing.

  39. Michael, I tend to agree with you, but perhaps if this was published in the Daily Telegraph, then it is necessary to tell the readers that things are changing. It will be a difficult concept to grasp for many of them, and a majority of those that do will not believe it or demand that things stop changing forthwith.

  40. Oh Vicus I agree – I bought the DT the other day and hate the changes! But I found when Polly Tonybee writes in The Guardian Jack so I’ll be buying that today.

  41. jaq

    I see you’re becoming a whiz with the old angle brackets.

    It’s the Sunday T that has changed, nearly causing me to pick up an Observer – I can’t read fast and so go by type face.

    Have fun reading Pol. I wonder what Christmas is like at her place – Midwinter R and R I expect.

  42. Jack, I have stopped getting the Sunday T since it changed, it’s like reading the Mail on Sunday. I did buy the Observer for a couple of weeks, but I had to give up, the feeling of being holier than anything was too much for me. Sigh, no Sunday British newspaper for me in exile. I wrote a strong worded e-mail to the Sunday Torygraph on what I thought about the changed, but no reply.

  43. Yeah Jack it was the Sunday T (lurve these new toys) and I thought the typeface was terrible. It was suggested to me recently (and by a delicious academic) that ‘Lurve’ equals “infatuation and lust” so hopefully I can find an excuse to play with all the toys here.

    Unfortunately I’m going to have to log off for a few days so if I don’t get to a magic box then allow me to wish you all a very merry christmas.

    If P really is a New Labour devotee then I am sure she will advocate austerity and control to all her readers….then tuck in to the biggest goose she can find with her nearest and dearest. Or should that be turkey?

  44. Vanessa

    I don’t mind the main bit but the book reviews in the silly magazine don’t seem right. I shall just have to save the Speccie until the weekends.

    Jaq

    A warning about that Benn man. Just because a chap says one thing you like don’t take your eyes off his hands.

    Happy Christmas both and all

  45. I bought a copy of the Telegraph the other day, in desperation. It was the first time I’d had one in my hand in years so I can’t comment on the typeface or the layout. It did seem to have an excessively silly number of sections (in common with every other Sunday paper). Its attitude hasn’t changed much since I last read it, either.

    Bring back Oz Magazine, I say…

  46. You’re right about the Daily Bellylaugh it is getting more like the Daily Mail but in the mail I particularly like one article saying ‘save the Oompalumpas and down with the Vernicious Knids’ and two pages on the leader saying ‘Death to the Oompalumpas and save the Vernicious Knids’ and anyway, from time to time you can win a house in the Mail and all you get in the Bellylaugh is adverts for posh wellies and cheap pearls. Of course there is Boris!

  47. I don’t buy Sunday papers. They weigh a ton. I stopped reading the Guardian many years ago, simply because it suddenly started adding extra sections. The Independent was my next choice, but then they started the dreaded extra sections.

    I currently read the new format Independent. Every day they manage to splash some apocalyptic warning of impending doom over the front page. I suppose it’s one way of being woken up in the morning.

    Although yesterday, or maybe today, they actually printed some good news on the front page. That was also a shock.

  48. Bad news sell newspapers: an incontrovertible fact: this should indeed be a wake up call to all, as it is to me.

    I now ignore the front page , and only ever refer to it again , if there is a continuance between it and an otherwise seemingly interesting story on an inside page.

  49. Well, I get my Independent delivered. So I’m usually gazing at it blearily (or blairily) over a mug of tea. And the front page is screaming about global warming, or avian flu, or the imminent ice age, or undiscovered earth intercept asteroids.

    Why do they keep going on about avian flu? I guess they just like to keep us all worried.

  50. You mean you haven’t heard about the SPARROWS? In Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch??

  51. Nope. It’s already here, is it?

    I heard that if it hits, then transportation will grind to a halt, as truck drivers get sick. So Tesco won’t get it’s deliveries. And we’ll all starve.

    That is, if we aren’t killed off by the flu.

    Or the coming ice age.

    Or an asteroid impact.

    Or…

  52. If the truck drivers get sick then presumably the train drivers will also get sick. And then we’ll have no further use for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (thank God for cut n’ paste). So bird flu can’t be all bad, can it?

    Unless of course you’re a Welsh sparrow. I’m so sorry to hear about their troubles. It’s quite ruined my Christmas.

  53. LOL … Saw Charlotte the other night (royal variety thingy) and thought she was more enjoyable as a kid. Mind you, I’ve often thought the same about kittens and pups.

    If I’m not back in time, Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to all!

    [PS: And in case I cause a mass exodus from North Wales, I’ve heard nothing new about avian flu. EXCEPT that the virus is resistant to Rumsfeld’s “Tamiflu”. Poor Rummy!]

  54. idlex:

    2 November 2005

    “NEW YORK (Fortune) – The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it’s proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that’s now the most-sought after drug in the world.

    “Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)’s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

    “The forms don’t reveal the exact number of shares Rumsfeld owns, but in the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead’s stock from $35 to $47. That’s made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer.”

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0511/S00036.htm

    [Verifiable from other sources via Google.]

  55. Jaq – obviously if Charlotte Church had bird flu I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit alarmed.

    Nora – on the other hand… you’ve quite upset my Christmas. How much money does one man NEED, ferchrissake?

  56. Sorry, Mark. I hope you do have a good Christmas, notwithstanding. 🙂
    Maybe he buys cryogenic storage space for Bush and Co.

  57. I see. But if Rumsfeld’s got anything to do with it, Tamiflu won’t work any better than the US army in Iraq.

    Happy Christmas everybody.

  58. Boris wrote: Only Charles Kennedy is capable of bubble-gumming this coalition together.

    I had thought that ‘bubble-gumming’ was a deprecated practice, indicating slipshod adhesion – until I read this at the start of Chapter 10 of 72 Virgins:

    Whatever you said about the Brits, whatever their snobberies and limitations, they understood the relationship between the past and the present. They never pretended that their system of government was some ash-and-aluminum example of perfected modernity. They knew their democracy was an inherited conglomerate of traditions, bodged together, spatchcocked, barnacled and bubblegummed by fate and whimsy.

    Clearly Charlie Kennedy belongs in the finest tradition of British democracy.

  59. “He is more endangered than the Giant Panda, whose laid-back style he so brilliantly emulates.”

    Although he is clearly better at breeding…

  60. For a so called Red Squirrel, he certainly defended his corner this morning on Radio 4.

    He promises to come out fighting after the Commons opens again after he Holiday break , and he surely didn’t sound as if he intends to give the leadership up meekly to that grey squirrel in waiting,Simon Hughes, if it can at all be avoided.

    As The Duke of Wellington said to Sam , ” Pick up thy Musket , and let battle commence”.

  61. After Charles’revelations this evening , prompted by ITV investigative journalism, let us hope that the red squirrel’s nuts do not turn out to be bitter almonds.

  62. Alas the cyanide pill was already there for self administration.Once taken , there’s no turning back. Such a nice guy too.

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