James Forsyth

Downing Street grateful for its “useful idiots”

Downing Street grateful for its "useful idiots"
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Harriet Harman’s comment on Sunday that Fred Goodwin’s pension arrangements are “not enforceable in the court of public opinion” did suggest, as Alex argues, a belief in the rule of the mob not the rule of law. (It also raised the question of why on earth the government had effectively signed off on them when it bailed out RBS). But I suspect that Downing Street is not that enraged about the remarks even if it won’t support them.

As Francis Elliott writes, “From Number 10’s perspective the controversy over Sir Fred Goodwin serves a useful purpose in conducting public anger over the recession away from the Government.” The more discussion there is of Goodwin’s shamelessness, the less there is of the economic mismanagement and the poorly thought-through regulation that led us to this point. Indeed, back in the day when we were in awe of the Labour spin machine, we would probably have been commenting on the cleverness of this diversionary tactic. But now we are just left with Brown’s allies calling Harman, as Francis reports, a ‘useful idiot’.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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