It will not have escaped most people’s notice that despite Labour being out of power, its senior figures continue to be held accountable whether via public inquiries, a media that sometimes seems to think we are still there, and a government that never misses an opportunity to paint a negative picture of a very successful period of office. Oh, and then there’s satire, though when I phoned home to check if anyone had taped The Hunt for Tony Blair, my nearest and dearest were watching The Sopranos … Yes, I know, taping old fashioned what with Sky Plus blah blah but as Cheltenham Festival goers found out a week ago, I am the man with an old Nokia and will probably get an iPhone when everyone else has stopped.
David Cameron was at it again last night, showing that he really does not get why his man Fox had to go, and showing that petulance always pops through when he is doing something he doesn’t want to. I caught a single clip of his reaction to the inevitable resignation of Liam Fox, and a large part of it was referring to ‘the mess Labour left us’. The mess he should have confronted was the one created by the frankly quite remarkable actions of his defence secretary, and by his tolerance of them for too long, a la Andy Coulson.
But neither Labour, the media nor the Parliamentary authorities should let the matter now close. Because the questions that led to the frenzy which led to the resignation have not gone away, and have now adequately been answered. So just as Labour still face questions from our time in government, Mr Fox still faces questions about his short tenure as defence secretary, and so does Mr Cameron.
The government, as they did with David Laws’ departure, will now try to induce an eye-rolling ‘let’s move on’ mood every time Fox’s name is raised. Labour should ignore the eye-rolling, and continue to get to the bottom of a bizarre ministerial scandal which says a lot about how the Tories think they can conduct their business.
## ps – I was not surprised Philip Hammond was slotted in at the MoD. He has always struck me as one of the more competent ministers. He was also showing himself up for the task of facing down the NIMBYs who want to stop the highspeed rail link. I don’t know much about Justine Greening, but I worry another casualty of Fox’s departure may be the train system the country needs. I hope she proves me wrong.