Quite the most jaw dropping comment of the day has to come from Peter Mandelson, who complains about Alan Duncan saying one thing in private and another thing in public. This from the man who waxed lyrical about Gordon Brown's deficiencies to George Osborne in private ... you can finish the sentence yourself. But I digress...
I'll be on Newsnight later talking about today's Alan Duncan farrago. There's nothing really that one can defend, apart from to point out the sheer duplicity of the jerk who did the surreptitious filming. Remember, this is the man who dug up Alan Duncan's lawn. Alan magnanimously invited him for a drink at the House of Commons so he could put his point of view to him in person. In the film he makes out that he "sought out" Alan. Rubbish. He was invited to meet him and repaid him in this disgraceful manner.
However, it's not possible to defend Alan's view, even if it was said in a half jest, that MPs live on rations. Try telling that to an unemployed single mother in Salford. He also said that "MPs are treated like shit". I'm not going to defend that either, apart from to point out that these remarks were made in June, when MPs were feeling bruised and got at, and were reacting badly to the expenses scandal. Many MPs do indeed feel they are treated very badly. That's a simple matter of fact. Whether they have any justification or not is for individuals to decide.
For the Conservative Party, these are embarrassing remarks and they will add fuel to the fire of those who want Alan Duncan out of the shadow cabinet. I am not one of them. Yes, he has his faults, but in a parliament on monochrome politicians Alan at least provides a little colour. In his interview with me for Total Politics recently, he described himself as the most misunderstood politician in Britain. In many ways he is, but he is also the architect of some of that misunderstanding.
Many MPs are already acting as if they are frightened by their own shadows. Some will feel that if they can't meet someone for a drink for fear of being secretly filmed they might as well give up.
But the fact of the matter is that members of the shadow cabinet have got to be disciplined. Meeting a geeky environmental loon like Heydon Prowse could never end well. The invitation, no matter how well meant, should never have been issued. Aspirant cabinet ministers must not place themselves in such compromising positions.
UPDATE Thu 9am: You can watch the interview HERE. Scroll in 35 minutes. This interview has attracted more negative comment than most I have done. Many people think I was far too hard on Heydon Prowse, that I was smug and condescending. That certainly wasn't the intention and having watched the interview again I do think people have gone over the top and in many cases have completely ignored what I actually said, and have critiqued what their prejudices think I said. Having said that, I don't think it was the best interview I have ever done. And it has made me realise I need to lose weight again!