Westminster Times
Westminster Times (Reuters)

What is it about politicians and their Legacy Projects? Boris bikes, the Olympics, the Dome, Iraq (actually scrub that last one) and now the High Speed Rail Link.

They all have the same thing in common: a politician who wants to leave a physical mark behind them, something future generations will point to and say "that was so-and-so's vision".

They also have something else in common. They always spark extreme bouts of political wobbles amid fears the public and media might suddenly decide to take against them, particularly as the costs soar way beyond original estimates, and they turn into "so-and-so's folly".

Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson had grandiose plans for their Millennium Dome (actually it was Tory Michael Heseltine's Dome) but it all ended in disaster as it was roundly snubbed and became a symbol of the sort of vanity projects politicians should avoid.

Boris and Cameron had their Olympics (actually they were Blair and Livingstone's Olympics) which were written off long before they were launched but went on to become an unexpected, raging success. Although the jury is still out on the long-term legacy.

And now we have Cameron's HS3. Once again, it is actually a project originally launched by the previous Labour government but which has been enthusiastically taken up by the current administration.

And, as ever, the jitters have set in. Labour's Ed Miliband is still supportive but his Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has suggested he might prefer to spend the £50bn cost on something less grandiose, like schools and hospitals.

More importantly, there is growing public opposition to the scheme, and Miliband has previously displayed a knack of grabbing the public mood on issues like phone hacking and Syria. He may yet decide this is one legacy project that should be strangled at birth.

Watch this space.

Boring to the top?

Let's hear it for "boring snoring".

Labour's shadow treasury minister Rachel Reeves claims to have been hurt by the Newsnight editor's frankly juvenile description of her. She shouldn't be.

In an age of superficial, image-obsessed celebrity there is a lot to be said for boring politicians - just look at Germany's Hausfrau Angela Merkel - particularly if they exude calm and an air of solid competence.

And that is just what Reeves manages, defiantly refusing to be rattled by aggressive interviewers and equally refusing to offer headline-grabbing soundbites.

It may all be spin, but she appears remarkably un-spun. A good trick if you can pull it off so it is no surprise that Reeves remains a favourite for the top job in the future.

Bloom quits.

It's no great surprise that Godfrey "bongo bongo land" Bloom has decided to quit Ukip's group in the European Parliament. How long can it be before he leaves the party altogether?

The final straw for Bloom came when he had the party whip withdrawn (so he was already out then?) after "joking" that a group of women were all "sluts".

In his resignation remarks he insisted on referring to the party as "New Ukip", suggesting it had gone the same way as "New Labour", apparently unconcerned by the fact that it was New Labour that won an unprecedented three elections in a row.

It is a bit of a shame really, we need more clowns in politics.

Confessions of a hit man.

Damian McBride has offered an explanation for why he chose the eve of Labour's crucial annual conference to publish his memoirs revealing his sleazy, back-stabbing, lying antics when working for Gordon Brown. He was being loyal to Labour, apparently.

McBride is believed to have been paid around £130,000 by the Daily Mail for the extracts after the paper won the Fleet Street bidding war. But, says McBride, he could have got a great deal more if he had published in the weeks before the 2015 general election.

And, he adds candidly, he will be keeping the cash because he left Gordon Brown's employment with debts and no payoff.

So all those suggestions he was motivated purely by the money and didn't give a damn about the effects his revelations might have on his party are well wide of the mark then?

I just wonder how much the extracts would have been worth if he had waited until after the general election. Silly question really.

Votes count - not.

Just in case there are any Labour delegates who still think their votes count for anything, consider the demand for an end to the government's public sector wage freeze.

Union boss Dave Prentis made an impassioned speech to the conference, declaring: "More than anything, our people need hope. They need to know now that when elected, our party will end the pay cap which is blighting so many lives. It's not rocket science. If this is a cost of living conference, then the pay freeze must end. No ifs, no buts - a clear commitment to end the Tory pay freeze."

His motion to that effect was not opposed by the leadership, or anybody else for that matter, and was overwhelmingly passed amid almost universal indifference..

So it will be in the next election manifesto then? Don't hold your breath.