It must be, I suppose, about a hundred days since the Labour Party rounded up five of its slowest-moving and most dim-witted members,  put them in cages and took them round the country to be jeered at and bombarded with ham sandwiches by other denizens of the tribe, the notional reward from which was that there would be a vote at the end for which one would make the least repulsive leader of the opposition. Hardly anybody knows anything about these pathetic contestants, or what they stand for, and even fewer care which one wins. It would be a greater kindness, once the process has eventually run its course,  to have all five of them humanely destroyed, but there would doubtless be all sorts of pettifogging legal restrictions against such a course of action. One is tempted to consult Ms Harriet Harman on the question, the Labour Party’s matriarch and a distinguished former law officer, save that the termination route would lead to a destruction ratio of four males to one female and this could be expected to cloud her judgement.

If there is one thing, however, to have emerged from this scrofulous palaver it is a deep and disturbing animus against the Liberal Democrats, with the candidates outbidding each other in how nasty they want to be about these harmless creatures. One of them – a Miliband at a guess – has called for the entire Liberal species to be made extinct.  What is one to do?  Down here in Somerset, the local member, Mr David Heath, can often be seen in and out of the hedgerows, looking for berries and it seems a trifle harsh to fetch down a shotgun on the say so of a scion of socialism. Perhaps it will be enough, if Labour ever do return to power, that Liberal Democrats are simply interned.

More compassionate figures from within the Labour movement – latter-day Oskar Schindlers if you like – are taking pity on the unfortunate Libs and trying to arrange escape for the likes of Charles Kennedy, though Kennedy is an obstinate man and won’t move without assurances about the state of the drinks cabinet on the other side. Perhaps they should target the truly helpless instead, and start with Ming Campbell. Whatever did become of that plan to send him to Australia with a plumed hat and make him high commissioner? In their own dark days of hung parliament terror, the Aussies badly need the deluded Ming.

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