Voting down the government’s proposed legislation, the Prime Minister warned, will have apocalyptic consequences: it will de-stabilise the government; it will de-stabilise the markets… it will make the earth roar and the abyss spew off its stench.
Meanwhile, the PM is taking great care not to de-stabilise himself and, to that effect, he is prepared to do away with formality.
He allocates cabinet jobs for political compromise rather than for the competence and suitability of the person employed, appoints as chief of the Met a New Labour favourite to placate those in his party who have reasons to fear the arm of the law, and procures fast-tracked seats in the Upper House, clumsily knocking over the barriers in his pursuit of short-term political gain.
Amazingly, now it appears that even John Prescott (the Hull MP who played a nefarious part in both the Gaul and the Derbyshire RFIs) is being re-habilitated and courted for political support. Acrimony in the House of Commons can’t be afforded at this time - it is politically much cheaper to whip up a scandal in the Lords, instead, and thus appear tough on corruption.
We would have hoped that the Prime Minister was able to carry his party along with him by the force of his talents and personality, not by peddling gongs, favours and immunities from prosecution. The PM has, of course, many other ways of stabilising his political tenure, but these are, perhaps, too fraught with risks and difficulties.
And, as the old wisdom goes, no one can really climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.