Margaret Thatcher, Margaret Beckett, Jacqui Smith: truly a journey from the exquisitely sublime to the ineffably ridiculous, it has to be said. What do they have in common? Nothing bar having held one of the Great Offices of State. Smith, a whiny former comprehensive school teacher, having risen without trace, eats a kebab and sinks once more into the perma-slime.

She made the mistake of telling a Sunday Times of her fears of going out at night into our capital city and that there were parts of the capital where she would not venture on her own after dark:

“I just don’t think that’s a thing that people do, is it really?”

Then, having realised that his might seem like (as it indeed is) criticism of Labour’s mockery of a law and order record over the last ten years, she furiously back-pedalled (or rather got a flunkey to back-pedal on her behalf) and announced that she was not frightened of going out at all and, indeed, had recently taken her life in her hands and gone on an expedition into darkest Peckham where she had come across a native (or not so native, as it happens) doner kebab seller and had actually bought and eaten a kebab. Wow!

Sadly for this apology for a Home Secretary, she had not reckoned with the investigative skills of the Daily Mail’s journalists who, in the manner of Sir Henry Morton Stanley, set off on the trail of La Smith and actually found the worthy purveyor of kebabs who had sold her said kebab.

Thus we discover that, far from this amazing journey having been nocturnal in nature, it was rather more crepuscular, having taken place, not at the witching hour, but around seven o’clock in the evening. And, we are told, that far from this being a bold solo enterprise undertaken at the risk of being macheted to death by outraged Peckhamians or decked by gauchos wielding boleadoras, she was, in fact, accompanied by a burly ‘close protection officer’.

One assumes that, in this trying age, her personal plod was carrying some sort of hardware designed to give the Yobbery a nasty fright, at least, had they decided to give our Jacqui a hard time – I once sat next to the late Reggie Maudling’s bodyguard at a shooting lunch who, pulling a voluminous handkerchief from his pocket deposited a reassuring Browning Hi-Power in my lap, so I imagine today’s plod will have something similar – and so what might have been a brave foray into bandit country was, it seems, an amiable evening promenade.


Thus this second-rater manages at one and the same time to trash Labour’s record on crime by admitting that there are places that you cannot go, even with your own tooled-up bodyguard and trash herself by telling pathetic porkies as her aides try to spin her out of trouble. Oh la!

Gone are the days, under this bunch of nincompoops, when W.S. Gilbert could write:

Camberwell became a bower,

Peckham an Arcadian vale

Trial by Jury

Which will doubtless annoy the local MP who will be really pleased that her fellow Cabinet Minister has effectively declared her constituency to be the local equivalent of The Bogside, a no-go area only safe before seven in the evening and then only if accompanied by some heavy muscle. Harriett Harman, the lemon-sucking harpy who sits for this seat, will be thoroughly hacked off.

The Times has this and The Daily Mail this.

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