The zero sum game

Posted on: 18th May 2011

Originally posted August 6th 2008

Perhaps it’s the now predictable August deluge of perpetual rain and showers. Or, maybe, it’s the refusal to take foreign holidays in an attempt to court favourable public relations?

Parliament might be mothballed in maintenance scaffolding and dust cloths. But the normality of frantic political debate, announcements of eye-catching initiatives, venomous disputation and even skulduggery and shadowy plots to depose leaders carries on as if MPs don’t know what to do with themselves when they haven’t got a Westminster village in which to ply their dark arts.

A stamp duty holiday? Perhaps. £4 billion pumped into the Government’s recently nationalised Bank – Northern Rock – which has repossessed nearly 4,000 homes this year. Angry demands for the cleaning up of MPs expenses from the leader of the very party which has more culprits in their midst than any other.  Which reap cries of ‘brazen’ and ‘smoke screen’ as a riposte. And, of course, the public shadow boxing and coded language of plots and subterfuge against the PM by members of his own flock. There’s almost more going on now than in a typical Parliamentary sitting week.

It’s enough to provoke a recall.

For those, like the PM, who seems to be on the wrong end of many of these events and stories, there’s the hope that the weather will change. Other diversions and the Olympics will preoccupy the press. The plotters will be able to get back on their sun loungers and troubles will evaporate with the puddles left by the early August soaking.

How different is was last summer. Mr Stalin at the height of his powers. A dream honeymoon start. Popular announcements to reduce prime ministerial patronage and the chance for all to have a say. The fickle media portrayed a man with Midas touch. In control. His happy backbenchers not worried about living in the shadows, enduring the carbon monoxide of obscurity.

How different now. To the media you’re either a ‘hero’ or ‘zero’. No half measures…