18 October 2011

Thinking Paper #161 - If Gus O'Donnell issues a report and no one bothers reading it, does it make a sound?

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell is expected to issue a report into Liam Fox today. It's expected to conclude various things, but Foxy has already stood down. Who cares?


If Gus O'Donnell issues a report and no one bothers reading it, does it make a sound?

The report into Liam Fox and his 'best man' is out today, but he's already resigned, so no one really cares. The political class are a fickle bunch. They like a scalp, they like it soon. Before it happens they cast all sorts of aspersions about the potential scalp's character. After it happens there is a brief period of people saying slightly nice things about the chap (and it's almost always a chap) who has stood down. After that there's nothing.

This example throws the usual formula into disarray. Fox is a canny bugger, and resigned on a Friday afternoon about 5pm, when people only really care about going to the pub, and what they're doing for the weekend. By the time Monday rolled round, people had virtually forgotten who he was, and now it's Tuesday, people stare vacantly at their computer with a confused look on their faces trying to remember if they ever knew anything about this shell of a man. If it wasn't for repeats of Have I Got News For You, there'd be a call for an inquiry into why BBC News is reporting non-news.

Conclusion

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox broke the ministerial code in his dealings with his friend Adam Werritty, but did not gain financially from the arrangement, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell's official report is expected to say.

We are told that "The prime minister has seen the report", as if that makes any difference at all.

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