Well, who'd have thought it? I never knew the Lib Dems were that interesting. I'd sort of assumed, along with everyone else, that the party was holding on to Charles Kennedy in the hope that, in time, he might overcome his difficulties. I now realise it was the other way round.
Kennedy's departure actually left something of a vacuum, and nature, true to form, decided to fill it. And how. Mark Oaten must have thought he was in the perfect situation: a position on the Liberal Democrat front bench would seem to guarantee total anonymity. The political equivalent of ticking the box marked "no publicity". But no. Flicking between Oprah Winfrey, Trisha and What Not To Wear, Oaten's gentleman friend happened to stumble upon the Parliamentary Channel and that was it. Oaten was outed as a Liberal Democrat. Busted. Another page in the Westminster book of scandal.
There was the predictable chorus of sympathy, with its time-honoured refrain of: "If this is how we treat our politicians, why would anybody volunteer to be one?" You can see their point. After all, if a bloke can't nip off for a threesome with a couple of rent boys when the wife's not looking, what's the world coming to? What's more, if we want politicians to reflect the society they represent, should we not rather welcome the odd bloke who gets off on the sight of a gay prostitute dressed as a footballer, if only in the interests of proportional representation? It's not as if he's the only gay in the village. One can have sympathy for his wife, though, who was reportedly on a skiing holiday when the news broke. On a slippery slope with a pole in each hand, she would have been blissfully unaware that her husband was doing the same thing back home.
With the announcement of the films nominated for this year's Baftas, it's time to draw readers' attention to the recent crop of entries from the Liberal Democrats. Here are a few of the box-office hits: Crash (18) - Charles Kennedy stars in the tale of a party leader's spectacular fall from grace (frequent mild swearing); Brokeback Mountain (PG) - Ang Lee's challenging portrayal of homosexual politicians whose lust is untempered by marriage (contains sex and nudity); Walk the Line (U) - A moving tale of unswerving party loyalty (features Lembit Opik); Good Knight, and Good Luck - Sir Ming Campbell stars as the eponymous saviour (PR, a safe one for half-term).
Of course all the Lib Dem shenanigans, like those of last year's Conservative leadership race, are a tremendous bonus for the Prime Minister, who can spend a few happy weeks out of the firing line. At his latest press conference he looked carefree. Joking about the allegations of spying in Moscow, uncompromising on education, he seemed to be enjoying himself. It's not as if he has an opposition to worry about. Not from the Conservatives, at least. Just as Blair did a decade ago, David Cameron has decided that before he can think about leading the country, he has to kick the crap out of his own party. For the moment, Blair can enjoy the lack of serious competition from the benches opposite. After all, there isn't an election for four years and he'll be gone by then.
Maybe Sven-Goran Eriksson is cleverer than we thought. By leaving the FA with little option but to release him after the World Cup, he has managed to engineer a situation where his employers will have to compensate him, rather than the other way round. Unlike the team, he's got his bonus before the tournament. Who knows, even now he could be considering a claim for constructive dismissal. He wouldn't have wanted to stay after the World Cup anyway. What would be the point? If England won, there would be nowhere for the manager to go, apart from Buckingham Palace. ("May I say how good you look, Your Majesty. What are you doing after the show?") And if England lost, he wouldn't want to hang around either. It was just a question of negotiating. And as it happens, he's in the perfect situation now. Amply rewarded, plenty of time to consider offers, nothing in the diary after week one of the World Cup. He shouldn't sue the News of the World. He should give it a share of the loot. Unless Nancy has already spent it on beauty products. From Fake Sheikh to Fake Bake.