Just as a valve appears to have gone on David Blunkett, so it seems new Labour itself has blown a gasket and is now misfiring badly. What on earth is going on? The ban on drinking on public transport, proposed and almost immediately disowned, might have made sense if it were applied to the drivers and the pilots, but not to everyone else. It seems to be another example of the classic new Labour syllogism: people drink alcohol; alcohol leads to violence; therefore all drinkers are violent. It's like saying that because most motor accidents involve cars, cars should be banned. Bans on smoking and hunting are either in force or under way, much to the chagrin of the country's beagle population, who now have few pleasures left. The "Respect Agenda" reminds me of John Major's "Back to Basics", a flagship policy that became a submarine.
It seems that at a certain point in a prime minister's term, he (or she) comes to the conclusion that it's all the public's fault and we must be punished. It's a mixture of petulance, a desire to control and, in Blair's case, the development of his much-publicised zeal for "initiatives" ("something tough, with immediate bite, that sends a message through the system") into a desperate need for anything resembling a new idea.
It's hugely gratifying to see the Bush administration begin to unravel, as the pernicious members of its inner circle - the individuals who have failed America both at home and abroad - are dragged one by one into the legal spotlight of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation. Even as he accepted his resignation, George Bush could not help himself from using Lewis Libby's nickname "Scooter" in his statement. Do they all have epithets, like the bunch of gangsters they resemble? Dick "Babyface" Cheney? Karl "Strangler" Rove? It's hard to imagine Tony Blair referring in similar circumstances to "Shagger" Blunkett or John "Five Bellies" Prescott. Defiant against all the odds, it was left to the fabulously unapologetic Republican apologist Collen Graffy to defend the administration. "It's a win-win situation," she told Today. "If someone is cleared, it shows that there was a robust investigation and it wasn't a whitewash; if they're charged, it shows transparency, it shows the judicial process taking its course. I think that's good for America, and it's good for other emerging countries to see." Once again the politicians come up with twisted logic that mere satirists can only dream of.
As part of a publicity drive ahead of a series of live shows later this month, I am faced with questionnaires asking everything from my favourite restaurant to my "top ten MP3 downloads" (I'd love to read Alan Bennett's response to that). I find these more difficult than almost anything else. I identify with the character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who, threatened with a fiendishly difficult question before being allowed to cross a ravine, is then asked to name his favourite colour. And gets it wrong. The fact is, I don't really have a favourite music track; and if I did it would probably change anyway, depending on what mood I'm in. Blair gets around this by tailoring his answers to the audience - hence his celebrated food choices (fish and chips in Labour's magazine, fettucini garnished with olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and capers in Islington). I don't have a favourite football team either - a problem in today's culture. My excuse is that I was away from school on the day teams were given out. In any case, I don't think you do choose football teams; football teams choose you, whether it's where you come from, who your dad or who your friends supported. It seems wrong to make choosing a football team an intellectual decision; after all, what do you base it on?
Supporting the most exciting team? The underdog? The most genuine one (supporting Wigan, out of an inverted sense of snobbery)? I shouldn't follow the example of a school friend who transferred his allegiance after seeing his team relegated, only to watch his new choice go down the following season.
Readers familiar with this column will be aware of my growing concern that something is very wrong with my life (having voice tracks of David Davis and Hazel Blears on my iPod being the latest example). Last week my daughter Ava (4) added to my woes. Seeing a picture of Blair on a newspaper front page, she exclaimed: "Look! It's daddy!"