The princess and the PM

"To AV, or not to AV," said TV's Craig Oliver, who is no better at scansion than strategy, when he opened his PowerPoint presentation to the new inner circle. This grouping has recently expanded from what the tyro political commentator Andrew Rawnsley persists in describing as "a hardcore group of Old Etonian intellectuals" into the motliest of crews, with anyone and everyone lining up to lob a piece of advice in Dave's direction.

Proof of which was amply provided when the attendance figures for Oliver's witterings, staggeringly, hit double figures. But not for long, as a convenient text from the PM allowed me to make my excuses and leave before the second slide. He was, as so often these days, holed up in a patisserie. And in between mouthfuls, he, too, wanted to talk about the infernal referendum.

It is old ground and, as I explained once more, win-win ground for us. Either the vote is passed and we benefit from the niftiest piece of gerrymandering you could wish to see in this or any other lifetime - or it is not, and the country continues to benefit from a fair and proper electoral system.

The only unavoidable downside is Clegg, who will be yet more insufferable in victory, and will be forced, in defeat (and this is arguably worse), to become a Tory, following the collapse of his party. No matter, he can be despatched swiftly by allowing William to step down and making him foreign secretary.

It will be interesting to see how far his fabled knowledge of foreign languages assists him in that post and in how short a space of time
he becomes globally unpopular.

“It's all about the mood music," interrupted the PM, a PR man down to the tips of his podgy fingertips. "If the mood is right, the result is irrelevant. Which is why the royal wedding is so big for us. Capisce?"

Having taken the hint, I took a breather from front-line politics to spend more time with the royal family. This is every bit as wearisome as you would expect. "Wills" is a perfectly decent chap but handicapped by possessing a very small range of anecdotes. Kate, meanwhile, is a problem. First, we have had her "I am not Kate, I am Catherine" moment, which was fanned by the absurdly egregious Dickie Arbiter (think of a camp Kenneth Williams).

Second, at the risk of being ungallant, I have to say that there is no avoiding the very real issue of the disappearing bride - perhaps Kate's misguided homage to the ghost of her late mother-in-law. At the present rate of decline, it looks unlikely she will have the strength to cut the wedding cake, let alone eat it.

The contrast with our Prime Minister could hardly be starker. And it is one we need to scotch. The last thing we need before the nation votes is for said nation to see the princess fainting at the cake and the Prime Minister, lurking greedily, stepping into the void to scoff the entire bottom tier.

This article first appeared in the 21 March 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The drowned world