Taking the political mood
THE TRAIN TO MANCHESTER: News reaches me en route to Old Trafford of the government's defeat over the Gurkhas.
It is proof, if any were needed, that away from the economy the prime minister is consistently misjudging issues.
His handling of MPs' expenses and the Gurkhas - issues that are far from being the major questions of our age but which generate huge public emotion - suggest if nothing else that he is being badly advised.
Ed Balls and Peter Mandelson are both shrewd political strategists but are simply too busy to give day-to-day tactical advice.
Damian McBride was valuable to the PM before his ignominious exit from Downing Street. However, taking the political mood on this sort of issue was not his strength.
Alastair Campbell is now a regular visitor to No 10 but, undeniably talented though he is, Gordon Brown needs full-time not part-time advice.
It won't be long, I predict, before Labour MPs demand that "someone gets a grip". The question is who?
Incidentally, today's vote is a significant victory for Nick Clegg who, as his predecessor Paddy Ashdown did many years ago with the case of passports for the Hong Kong Chinese, found his voice speaking up for Britain's moral obligations.