05 June 2009

Press for change

Hoff Limits doesn't tend to make political predictions very often, mainly because we don't want to look silly when the opposite happens within 48 hours. (But since when has looking silly stopped us commenting in other areas?) However I would stick my neck out to say that rumours of the Prime Minister's demise seem, in my humble, greatly exaggerated.

Today, the Fourth Estate is predicting the fall of Gordon within days, as the third Minister in as many days quit his cabinet, though this time the now former Work and Pensions Minister directly challenged the PM to resign. Some journos, clearly giddy with excitement, were even suggesting this was as pivotal a moment as Geoffrey Howe's famous parliamentary assault on Margaret Thatcher in 1990, that did for her reign as First Among Equals.

However, I would offer two observations to suggest why this isn't so:

1) I reckon that, until news of his resignation hit the headlines, less than 10% of the population had even heard of James Purnell, never mind that he had a job in government. Frankly if you'd have asked me at the start of the week, I probably would have suggested it was a chain of estate agents.

2) When Geoffrey Howe thrust his dagger into the PM, he was resigning from the post of Foreign Secretary. The other parallel that comes to mind is Norman Lamont's lament that John Major's administration was "in government but not in power" that summed up the situation with devastating accuracy. Lamont was speaking from the position of ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. So far the occupants of the great offices of State are holding firm to the PM. Not least because of the absence of credible alternatives.

The conclusion I would come to is the media is now bored. The expenses scandal not only was tremendous fun for the print media, led by The Daily Telegraph, they actually felt important again. Now this story has finally run out of gas, only the distraction of a General Election will maintain their status as worth listening to again.

No comments: