Two thoughts sprang immediately to mind when I sat down to write this week’s column. The first was that, if dinner with David Cameron is worth two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, lunch with me must be worth at least a fiver.
‘History is the lies of the victors,’ asserts Tony Webster, the main character of Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Sense of an Ending. ‘Well,’ sighs his exasperated teacher, ‘as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated.’ And so it is with the budget.
It is a truth universally ignored that this is a far better government for the presence of the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives can’t say it, the Liberal Democrats don’t quite believe it, and Labour doesn’t want to. But if there’s one lesson we can take from the Liberal Democrat conference, it’s that it’s time for us to start.
Steve Hilton’s exit from No 10 confirms that this government has lost all of its reforming instincts. That is both an opportunity and a cautionary tale for Labour.