The hilarity occasioned by poor Chris Grayling’s failure to understand that Dannatt had joined his own party, rather than the government, was matched only by the performance of that smirking half-wit, the home office minister Phil Woolas. Give Labour the chance of an open goal three yards out and they grab the ball with gusto and boot it back down the pitch into their own net. Grayling, bless him, had been shown suggesting that he thought the appointment of Dannatt by the government was a gimmick, until it was pointed out that Dannatt had actually been appointed to a position in his own team. That was a laugh. But then Phil Woolas managed to shoot himself in both feet simultaneously by suggesting a)that Dannatt’s appointment was indeed a gimmick but that b)Labour’s co-opting of the great and the good could never remotely be described as gimmicky. As such he appeared petty, stupid and contemptuous of the electorate – and his gaffe was worse than Grayling’s. What Woolas should have offered was unqualified magnanimity: we are delighted Sir Richard is to continue to devote his considerable talents to public life and wish him great success in the Conservative Party. And all the while grinned inwardly that Dannatt’s hubris has actually helped to get them off the hook over Afghanistan.