New Torygraph smears against Nick, as Hennessy hits a hat-trick

by Stephen Tall on January 30, 2011

‘Nick Clegg – no more Government business please after 3pm’ squeals the Torygraph today, delighted that they have managed to link their three favourite things in one story: (1) Having a pop at Nick Clegg (check); (2) Having a pop at the Coalition (check); and (3) Having a pop at ‘political correctness gawn mad’ (check).

If you read the story by the paper’s reliably on-right-wing-message Patrick Hennessy — and it’s almost worth it to see a political editor in full reactionary cry — a few facts become clear. First, that the 3pm deadline refers to the Whitehall practice of ‘closing’ a ministerial red box, and has absolutely nothing to do with the hours Nick works.

Secondly, that the request from Nick’s office is unexceptional. As even Mr Hennessy reluctantly concedes in his article, “It is normal for boxes to be closed early on Fridays as most ministers head home to their constituencies then.”

Thirdly, that it’s simply an efficiency measure put in place by Nick’s newly-bolstered office designed, as a spokesman makes clear, to be ‘a general guide for routine submissions from other Whitehall departments to allow our office to work on them before putting them in the box’.

And fourthly, that if there’s any matter urgent that requires Nick’s urgent attention after 3pm it will reach him: his spokesman again, ‘Our private office takes a pragmatic and flexible approach where our office works with others across Whitehall to ensure that urgent submissions can be put in to the DPM’s box at a later time. This is no different from the system used by other private offices across the Government.’

So, nothing to see here, folks…

Unless you want vague insinuations from the Torygraph about Nick’s stress levels, or predictable right-wing nonsense that the Lib Dem policy of increased paternity leave is just pandering to political correctness. In which case, gorge away.