Thursday, January 29, 2004

Damp Squib

Apologies for the lack of posting yesterday. We had a small fire in our server room on Tuesday night and, although there was no damage to anything beyond the air conditioning unit, everything was disrupted yesterday morning and internet access didn't come back until the afternoon, by which point I was too busy to write anything. I had planned to write something last night but the journey home put paid to any hope of that.

Anyway, has anything momentous happened since my post on Tuesday? Let me see...

Ah! Of course. Blair's week of crisis happened, didn't it? No? What do you mean, it never materialised? But, but... The tuition fees vote! And Hutton! Oh, he won the vote and was cleared by Hutton. I see. What an anticlimax.

Somehow I'm not at all surprised that Blair escaped from criticism in the Hutton Report. I don't think he'd have said his job was on the line if there was any chance of him actually losing it. What does surprise me is that the whole government has come out of it pretty much completely unscathed. Granted, it wasn't the BBC's finest hour but can the government be said to be completely blameless? From what I saw, I don't think so.

As for the tuition fees vote, the result was such that both sides of the house can claim a victory. Labour can say they won the vote, conveniently forgetting that 90 of their MPs (over 20% of the party) didn't vote with the government (71 voted against and 19 abstained) whereas the Conservatives can point to the number of Labour 'rebels' while conveniently forgetting they lost the vote (though, to be fair to the Tories, given the majority the government has, they couldn't have had much expectation of actually winning it).

So the net result of this week is: no real change. Sure, the BBC is in 'crisis' - the Director General has already resigned and others may follow - but no one is (seriously) talking about this being the end of the BBC and the public generally still has confidence in the corporation. It will survive with no more than a few cuts and bruises. The government, and Tony Blair in particular, come away with even less than that, just a slight slap in the face from its own backbenchers.

What might have been the defining week of the year, politics-wise, ended up just being a damp squib. Thoroughly disappointing.

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