In fairness to Gavin, if you actually listen to the clip, it does seem as if he was attempting a joke. And again, in fairness to him, it does seem that he was also attempting some kind of joke back when he made his famous suggestion that Vladimir Putin’s Russia should “go away and shut up”. On these pieces of evidence, then, the results are in. The statement “the secretary of state was attempting a joke” belongs in the same category of outcome as “the secretary of state was attempting to bath a toaster”. Don’t do it, Gav. It ends badly.
I want to say there’s a fine line between national pride and national boastfulness that’s almost designed to get you a slap … But there isn’t. There’s a very thick, very heavy line between these two ways of acting. It’s both incredible and wearyingly credible that we contrived to end up on the wrong side of it.
I hope someone in the new, touchy-feely Downing Street rang up every offending minster and screamed: “You’re only supposed to dead-cat BAD NEWS, you absolute braindead amateurs!”