Saturday, September 08, 2007


We Know We Shouldn’t, But We Can’t Resist…

…Talking about Mark Oaten or coalitions (well, it’s appropriate; Mr Oaten talks about both subjects incessantly, but then, he can’t resist anything). What do they have in common? That at the next General Election, we all hope nobody’ll mention either of them! Still, Lib Dem bloggers just can’t resist talking about them either because, well, we all love a good gossip, and I’ve read all the blog pieces doing the rounds, too. Some of them have been serious and very sound (Jonny Wright and his floppy yellow sponge come to mind), but the one most worth reading is Liberal Mafia. It’s a brilliant and highly educational piece, despite, gasp, plugging a rival Blog of the Year nominee (gets you to a tee, though, James), and every party member should read it for moral instruction. I know I reached to protect my own values when I read it.
Is that OK, Don Liberali? As long as I pay you protection of a glowing write-up every month and keep omertà that you’re really Ming Campbell writing under a pseudonym, you promise I won’t wake up next to an elephant’s head (any more than usual)?
The only new thing I’ve discovered from reading all those articles (the MP for Winchester a bit of a prat? Hold the front page) is that, apparently, the only person who agrees with Mr Oaten is Iain Dale. That doesn’t entirely surprise me; call me old-fashioned, but I sometimes feel just a smidgeon of suspicion about Lib Dems whose main fans are Tories… Is it possible their fans might have some ulterior motive?

I’d love to tell amusing stories from the Winchester by-election about Mark Oaten to titillate your desire for gossip, but I only saw him briefly on polling day when he was looking very nervous (because Chris Rennard wouldn’t show him the figures). The only embarrassing story I can actually remember from Winchester involves me and Mark Pack – thinking about it, mainly me – so perhaps I’ll keep that to myself for a little while longer.

On the other hand, I did once persuade Mr Oaten to toughen one of his lines against ID cards by telling him I’d heard from a source that if he didn’t do something quickly, that very issue was about to be claimed by the Tories, back when he was our Shadow Minister for Schadenfreude. It may not have been strictly true, but it was remarkable how he suddenly paid attention and changed his mind on whether he wanted to follow my suggestion when the T-word was dangled in front of him…

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