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    Thursday, 2 April 2009

    Call a doctor! Obama-itus infects Westminster

    I’m surprised the PM found a spare half hour for PMQs. I was expecting a repeat of last week - Harperson with a script deliberately designed to be as dull as possible (a Civil Service special). I’d even brought a book just in case. Alas, the PM was not going to miss a chance to sell his super world saving plan. Again. Unfortunately, however, the country is suffering from ‘global’ tinnitus. Nevertheless off we went: Obama, Medvedev, Singh, Aso, ‘The President of China’ (does he not have a name?). No mention of Subversive Sarko ‘n’ Merk I see. When Tory MP Edward Garnier had the audacity to mention domestic issues, the PM jibed that he had “risen to the occasion today”. I assume he was being sarcastic. It’s hard to tell these days, the image police have purged his voice of any personality.

    Hepburn wanted to know about the unfortunate people suffering from asbestosis, “negligently poisoned in the workplace”. I was curious too, for it seems that the problem is widespread. Gordy remarked that asbestosis was a “terrible disease”. What terrible disease has infected the Cabinet? Smith looked ill, not helped greatly by the chosen shade of puce green. Alan Johnson didn’t look much better and even Ed Balls was missing his usual deranged grin. A case of ‘Poll-itus’ perhaps? In Smith’s case it can only be ‘XXX-itus’, a.k.a. ‘career end-itus’.

    Dave made a similar diagnosis. ‘Expenses-itus’, common name: ‘caught with a hand in the till’. There were groans of agony from MPs but Dave was not dishing out sympathy or lollies. “MPs may groan but frankly I’m fed up with out politics being driven through the mud”. I think mud is quite a polite way of putting it. A euphemism for something else found in abundance in the countryside, and Westminster for that matter. Dave wanted it sorted out “once and for all”.

    Gordy claimed he’d been calling for it for ages. That will be similar to that tighter regulation presumably? Balls was having hallucinations, doing his best Gordon Brown impression (and it is good, he is a mini-Brown, just less Scottish). Darling too was now infected. He sat utterly still with an expression of imminent vomiting whilst Gordon went on about some review or other. Perhaps the Cabinet are suffering from meaningless announcement-itus? Maybe it is a bad case of review-itus?

    Dave certainly seemed to think so. “I think the problem is that we do not need another review”, he said with a tone of slight amusement. “The public are sick and tired of this situation.” Gordy grinned manically. It’s not the only situation we are sick and tired of. The Cabinet are certainly sick; I’m certainly tired. Darling looked so awful I thought we might need a delegation of buckets. Perhaps someone should call a doctor?

    Gordy went on about Committees and reviews again. Hattie (now back in the giraffe enclosure) nodded like one of those dogs (or indeed giraffes – can giraffes nod?) that sit in the back window of a car. Nod-nod. These are the symptoms of ‘yes-men-itus’ (sorry, person) - that’s terminal.

    Dave heard not the sirens, but the “rustling of the long grass”. At this rate we could have the government symphony orchestra. ‘Rustling of long grass’ could join the ‘buck passing’, ‘skids under’, ‘stable door bolting’ and ‘carpet sweeping’ sections. Symphony no. 3 in A Major ‘Crisis’ (Unfinished). I’d pay to watch it (hang on a minute, perhaps I already have…).

    Gordon reverted to his furious scribbling, something had animated him. Oh dear, Dave had made the (unavoidable) mistake of asking about the G20. Gordy told Dave that this was about “lives, jobs, homes and businesses”, and Dave had mentioned none of them. That seemed a bit rich coming from ‘Global- G20- Gordon’. Indeed, we were treated to a long list of countries. I feared Gordy may get his holiday snaps out, Mandy’s already passed them round the Lords. The list went on, and then we had a lot about America. And then a lot more. Darling had stopped moving. I think he may have succumbed. Still there was more. Suddenly the diagnosis was clear. Brown’s answers were ten times longer than usual and he insisted on preaching (sorry, explaining) things. There was even a line lifted straight from the O-man-G-man press conference. Obama-itus had infected Westminster. The Cabinet were in attention withdrawal (or should that be relief?), but Darling, who was suffering most, was in awe, for he had been sent to Stansted (of all places) to meet the O-man. He had shaken his hand.

    However, it seems that Obama-itus has nasty side effects for it was Dave ‘Obama asked to meet with me’ Cameron who got an eventual smile out of Darling. Ever since the PM started his ‘do nothing’ jibe, said Dave, “he has been going down and we have been going up”. Naughty Merv’s warning had a little more salt rubbed in it, yet the Chancellor was still smiling. He’s met Obama. He’s seen what it is like to have a popular leader. He’s seen hope. Obama-itus seems to be spreading. The Cabinet have been negligently poisoned. Westminster is infected.

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