It's becoming a familiar sight in our newspapers now, and is even creeping through into television and radio. I'm talking about the circus of opinion that comes in the aftermath of controversial comment where people from all walks of life impart their wisdom on who should be sacked, who should quit, who should retire, apologise, resign etc. Well, there just isn't enough Max Clifford to go around.
We had a mini media flurry in the wake of Nigel Farage's remarks to the New President of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy. Unsurprisingly in a meeting today with the head of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, he was asked to make a series of apologies. Of course in the meantime, commentators and columnists have all had their piece to say. Perhaps the most entertaining was Elfyn Llwyd on Question Time who stated that name-calling and personal attacks had no place in politics, then told Nigel he was a caricature of himself and a Little Englander.
The point is, Nigel has been making these speeches for years. Controversial and pithy they may be, but they rarely get filtered down to the Press. There have certainly been stronger comments than those aired against Van the Man. But comments like this are needed for exactly that reason - to shake the media out of their apathy and get real debate going over the EU. I expect the average man on hearing Nigel's outburst would have said "Well, who IS this Van Rompuy?" Not because he's not a high profile European figure, but because a lot of people wouldn't even have had a clue a President of the EU even existed!
In the aftermath, everyone was clamoring to suggest it was a bid to raise publicity before the General Election. But why should we complain either way? It got the European Parliament on television and now a few more people might go away and find out what this Van Rompuy says he wants and what their future under his leadership will be like. Because he wants some pretty dramatic changes, and even more worryingly, has the power to enforce them.
Nigel was given a chance to explain further on The Daily Politics today. A good programme but nonetheless with a limited audience. The most important part of the whole story is not the "damp rag" comment, but why this man's appointment has caused such outrage. And that is the part of the story which is being kept away from the public. The fact that there is a new unelected President of the EU, so that means MY President and YOUR President and the President of about 500 million people, on a salary bigger than Obama's, who has had bestowed upon him a wealth of power by the Lisbon Treaty - which our Prime Minister signed without asking his people if they even wanted it - who has dreams of a Federal Europe. This should all be sounding a bit Nineteen Eighty Four, because it is!
And I suspect Nigel's opinion is, if it means just two more people come to realise what this man has in store for their future as Europeans, then it was worth it.