Dome supremo has a sorry PR strategy

Let's leave Labour, the Tories and the euro to work out their own fates.

Let's leave Labour, the Tories and the euro to work out their own fates.

We columnists no longer have to try to make politics interesting. It may look a mess, but it's all happening and I now don't expect another dull moment for at least another year. Certainly not if Lord Falconer of the Damned Dome remains in office. I don't want to get into the argument over whether he is the fall guy (which to some extent he is) or whether he should have resigned long ago (as he should for his own good). Instead I want to discuss his PR practices. They are an abomination. But I also feel sorry for him.

Political history is littered with people pre-eminent in their own spheres who come into government by patronage, whether by front door or back door, and fail miserably. Frank Cousins, former all-powerful leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union, stepped into a Labour cabinet and was savaged at the Dispatch Box. Across the floor, John Davies, boss of the CBI, was quite simply a fish out of water at the DTi. He couldn't cope in the Commons. But both of them were at least democratically legitimate. The price of that elected legitimacy was to have to stand up in the Commons and keep their heads in defending the Government. The instant transition from profession to minister is one which is sown with booby traps.

It is easier for those who, like Lord Falconer, are sent to the more gentle Lords. But the relative placidity of that other place cannot hide a scandal when it sees one. And the Alice in Wonderland methods of accounting for the expenditure of the public's money in North Greenwich have the makings of as big a scandal as the Lottery Commission's handling of Camelot and Branson. This is all the more reason why Lord Falconer should mind his PR ps and qs. He can't help his looks but he can - or should be able to - control his demeanour. And if he had the sense he was born with, he would listen to his PR advisers about the obligations that go with issuing speeches in advance.

The Daily Mail revealed that a Lords' speech circulated in advance stated: 'Technically there were periods when the (Dome) company was trading insolvently.

My answers to Parliament could be viewed as technically in error - for which I am sorry'.

Instead, he merely said that when he reported in July he did not know what was in a subsequent accountants' report so he was taking the first opportunity to put the record straight. Full stop. No regrets, still less an apology. I do hope his PRO has rapped him over the knuckles and smacked his bottom for his stupidity. For heaven's sake, if you issue your text in advance, stick to it.

Or else expect to be worse pilloried. Lord Falconer is not very bright.

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