Lord McNally, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, made a characteristically flamboyant contribution to the debate on the Motion for an Humble Address.  In it, he referred to the “GOATs” and called some of them “pouffes”.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed a number of people -previously outside politics – to the House of Lords as Ministers, as part of a “Government of All the Talents”.  And inevitably these Ministers became known as the GOATs.

Today, McNally went further:

“This year I should like to bring another concept—“pouffe”. “Pouffe” is what happens when a notable talent joins the Prime Minister’s Government as one of the GOATs. They appear at the Dispatch Box; we all admire them—and then “pouffe”. The noble Lord, Lord Jones—“pouffe”. The noble Lord, Lord Carter—“pouffe”. The noble Baroness, Lady Vadera—“pouffe”. The noble Lord, Lord Darzi—“pouffe”. The noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown—“pouffe”.

There are two notable exceptions. Who can read the first lines of the epic poem “Casabianca” without bringing into mind the behaviour of the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead? We all know the first lines:

“The boy stood on the burning deck,

Whence all but he had fled”.

The admiral, good sailor that he is, has clearly decided to go down with the ship. In contrast is the case of the noble Lord, Lord Sugar, who seems to have gone from landing stage to lifeboat without bothering to join the ship at all. [Laughter.] The Benches opposite are not supposed to laugh at that. The noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, is not laughing.

The sad fact is that the Prime Minister is now a very lonely goatherd.”

I make no comment …

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