Did Nick Robinson really refer to David Cameron as the Prime Minister? And should any of us be terribly surprised?
Now of course it is possible to excuse the BBC political editor’s mistake as a slip of the tongue. The Conference season has been going for some weeks. That is an awful lot of day to night two-ways, the staple diet of current broadcast journalism, and a lot of early mornings and late nights. And when tiredness creeps in, mistakes can be made.
But I would say it is less a mistake, more a symbol of the mindset much of the media now has.
The bulk of them seem to have decided some time ago that Labour has lost, the Tories have won, and can we get the damned thing over with?
It is this frustration which in part explains the contrast between the soft and supine coverage of the Tories in large parts of the media and the relentlessly negative coverage of the government.
But this is one of those weeks where I have been in different parts of the country every day and there is a definite gulf between the mood inside the Westminster village and the mood in the country.
Yes, you meet people who have had it with Labour. You meet people whose general view of politics is not high. But you (or at least I) meet very few people who express a positive desire to see Cameron and Co elected. And I have met a fair few people for whom the week so far has not been the success the Tories and the media seem to think. They are wrong on so many of the big arguments, as I said to my first dinner last night, and therefore they remain beatable, as I said to the second, a Labour fundraiser.
We also had a glimpse of their basic incompetence yesterday with the bungled announcement of General Richard Dannatt’s support and possible ministerial role in a Cameron government. I found the announcement both unsurprising and shocking.
Unsurprising because he has been making persistent noises off which have been undermining of the PM in a way that goes beyond the inevitable military lobbying. But shocking because the political impartiality of soldiers is something most Prime Ministers have been able to take for granted.
The news puts into some perspective the constant sniping.
In the current media climate, a military man taking pot shots at GB is not going to have to work too hard to get himself a good press. But the impact on public support for the war in Afghanistan, and on morale, can hardly be positive.
It is true that Labour has its own military man in government, former defence intelligence chief Alan West. I had many dealings with him when I worked for TB and had no idea as to his politics. Indeed, as he used to wear a bowler hat which he plonked in front of himself at meetings, I can remember Robin Cook being convinced he must be a Tory.
The point is we should not know the party politics of the military, and they should not let party politics affect their words and actions, knowing as they do that they can always make their case privately.
General Dannatt, had he found Gordon as bad as the press coverage seems to suggest, could surely have resigned.
He has done a pretty good job undermining GB. Yesterday he undermined himself, even if the press focus mainly on the undermining of GB.