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In the bubble

Posted by Richard Monday, October 08, 2007 ,

There can rarely be a better example of the "great disconnect" than the torrent of media coverage over the great "non-event" of the century week, than Brown's non-election.

Picked over by the commentators and the trivia "political" blogs, and seized upon with great gusto by Opposition politicians, one could almost believe that we had witnessed a seismic event in the politics of this country.

But, the truth of the matter is that nothing has happened. There is not to be an election until 2009 at the earliest but our best guess is 2010, to avoid a clash with the Euro-elections. And, if a week is a long time in politics, nearly three years is an eternity.

Meanwhile, outside the "bubble", life goes on.

Last Friday, the EU published its latest treaty daft and now, in less than two weeks time, Brown goes to Lisbon with a bag full of "red lines", ready to come out beaming with satisfaction, telling us that Britain's interests have been safeguarded. Yet, wrapped up in their own self-centred pre-occupations, the ante-penultimate step of the agreement of "provisional" treaty has gone all but unnoticed by the chattering classes.

At least, over the recess, the House of Common European Scrutiny Committee has been at work and, according to the Daily Telegraph it will report that the EU "reform" treaty is "equivalent in substance and effect to the old EU constitution" – not that that comes as any surprise to anyone who has looked at both versions.

The Committee, we are told, will also raise doubts about the safety of Britain's "red lines", not that that will make the slightest bit of difference to the mantra routine churned out by Brown, who is still warbling on about his determination to "defend" them.

At 3.30 this afternoon, however, all eyes will be on the "Iraq Statement" in the House of Commons, where Brown is dues to address MPs on the current situation. The Opposition will be doing its best to exploit the prime minister's discomfort, and the commentariat will be in full-flow, analysing and dissecting every nuance, filling the web with endless prattle and trivia.

What will almost certainly be missed will be key developments (picked up tardily by The Telegraph this morning, with minimal detail) which actually reflect a seismic shift in tactical and strategic thinking in our prosecution of the war on terror.

And not before time. Not only is the battle in Iraq at a critical phase but, again as the Telegraph reports, the campaign in Afghanistan is putting huge strains on Nato, the future of which is under threat.

These and other major developments are of enormous importance, in the short-to-medium term and of profound long-term significance, with decisions being made which require detailed scrutiny and careful analysis.

In the "bubble", though, such issues are of little importance, compared with current preoccupations and other weighty matters.

For the rest of us, we continue to look upon this life-form as alien species and wonder whether, in the fullness of time, they will ever wake up to the fact that their self-important posturing is merely the object of contempt and derision.

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