I’ve been away having laptop connection problems so apart from a couple of tweets I have not been able to congratulate Labour’s Dan Jarvis on his excellent by-election win. And yes, of course I knew Lord Sutch was dead when I tweeted asking where was he when he needed him? That was the point — this could have been his moment, coming ahead of the Tories and the third ‘big’ party, the Lib Dems.
Time was when by-elections were food and drink to the Lib Dems, their results to be taken as evidence of the great surge that showed them breaking the mould. No moulds have been broken. They have managed a toehold on power simply because David Cameron failed to win the majority that was there for the taking, and his to lose.
Of course it is a safe Labour seat, and Dan, who I got to know a little when he was serving in Kosovo and I was overseeing a revamp of Nato’s communications operation, was a terrrific candidate, as he will be an excellent MP.
But what the result, and the scale of the humiliation for Cameron and Clegg, show, is that the mood the Westminister media believes to be surrounding the coalition is very different to how it is in the real world of job losses, cuts and rises in the cost of living.
Meanwhile, may I report to you a fun way to while away a bit of time at airports. I am sitting in Frankfurt waiting for a BA plane to Heathrow to be called. As at virtually every British airline site in the world, big piles of Daily Mails are sitting in blue trays on a trolley waiting to be picked up by bored passengers unconcerned about poisoning their minds. It is the only way they can get rid of the damn things.
I have just done a bit of rearranging so that the piles of Mails are covered in copies of the Frankfurter Rundschau – which leads today on an analysis of the German Social Democrats’ attitudes to despots – so that the only British paper on show is The Independent.
There may be people reading this who are sitting in an airport waiting to board a plane likely to be filled with copies of the Mail. Cover them up with the local paper. Let’s go Big Society here folks, and cut down on airborne mental pollution.
Must rush. Flight being called. Vorsprung durch Frankfurter Rundschau.