07 October 2007

Mercer leaves Gordon's Big Top

The news on Iain Dale's Diary that Patrick Mercer has ceased to be a government advisor came as scant surprise as he had been in the news earlier last week criticising Brown's trip to Iraq. Like many Conservatives, I had speculated to myself about a suitable punishment for the disloyal Tory MPs who have taken Brown's 30 pieces of silver but I wonder if I was, in the words of David Cameron, applying the old politics.

The "0ld" theory of the political big tent is that it is better to have your enemies pissing out of the tent than standing outside, pissing in. But what happens when your latest circus pony decides to lift its tail and crap on the floor of your big top?

Perhaps I am crediting Cameron and Mercer with too much tactical nouse, but perhaps the reason Cameron was so relaxed about Mercer going over to "assist" Labour was that (a) it helps further "detoxify" the Tory brand (how can Labour make their favourite ad hominen attacks on MPs such as Mercer - as they did when he resigned from the front bench, if they are taking his advice) and (b) it gives the Conservatives a more potent weapon - an opposition back bench MP carries no weight when he attacks the Prime Minister - a government advisor does.

So maybe it will emerge that the gallant Member of Parliament for Newark - Lieutenant Colonel Mercer - was on a mission behind enemy lines. Bercow has said that rumours of his defection to Labour are entirely false, so we just need him to lift his tail and come running back to the Tory tent.

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