David Cameron: Anything but the economy

David Cameron Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Events brought the PM back from holiday early twice

The prime minister sounded very comfortable on the Today programme this morning talking about Libya and the riots.

He even found a common theme to connect them - just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you shouldn't do something.

So it was right, he argued, to take military action in Libya which the Arab world was prepared to back - or, at least, tolerate. However, it could not be pursued in Syria where they were, so far at least, unwilling to even back sanctions.

So, Britain's most dysfunctional families would be given "tough love" even though bankers, politicians and, yes, former members of the Bullingdon Club had behaved irresponsibly.

What occurred to me as I listened to him is how relieved he must be to be able to be talking about these things - indeed any things - other than the economy at a time when the latest statistics are alarming, the international climate uncertain and the markets are volatile.

He will be relieved too that the economic debate over the next few days will be shaped not by questions about how the government can stimulate growth, but memories of the arguments the last government had over how to respond to the banking crisis, the need for spending cuts and tax rises.

The respected economics commentator Martin Woolf of the FT declares today that: "The UK is in the midst of what is set to be the longest - and among the most costly - of its depressions in over a century. The characteristic of this depression, compared with its predecessors, is the frightening weakness of the recovery phase".

In preparation for a BBC documentary series I'm currently making on the politics of tax and spend I read Alistair Darling's memoirs.

Sadly I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before doing so.

The leaks are a taster of richer fare to come.