This ongoing story about Ken Clarke's remarks on Inheritance Tax on the Politics Show yesterday illustrates two things.
1. The importance of every front bencher being fully up to speed on all aspects of party policy
2. That if you don't kill off a story immediately, don't be surprised if it gathers pace
When I heard Ken's interview yesterday I remember thinking, 'hmmm, that isn't exactly the line to take'. Within a very short time it was a story on the 24 hour news channels, with Labour weighing in for good measure. I suspect this was not a case of Ken having any great disagreement over the Inheritance Tax policy, I suspect it is more that he wasn't up to speed on the detail of it - i.e. the fact that it wasn't merely an aspiration, but a commitment. There are worse crimes.
By the time the clarifying statement was issued later in the day, it was too late. Even though the Telegraph carries it in its front page lead today, the headline still reads that the policy is under threat.
The leadership was right to reassert that they remain fully committed to upping the threshhold within a Parliament. It would be utter madness to renege on it and send out entirely the wrong message. They key in all of this is that it is a costed commitment. It's not a tax cut as such, as there will be compensating revenue. As I am sure that by now Ken Clarke knows too!
Some people will use this to justify their view that Ken Clarke is a loose cannon and shouldn't have been brought back. Rubbish. Whatever short term embarrassment this saga dumps on the party is more than compensated for by the fact that he's become one the Party's big stars over the past few weeks.
Let's just conceded it was a minor gaffe, and move on.