PICTURE the scene: Ed Miliband steps back from the podium at Hyde Park having just delivered a speech against Government spending cuts to hundreds of thousands of protestors.
“That went quite well,” he whispers to an aide. “But I hope no-one spotted my lack of a coherent economic policy. Let’s just hope our anarchist comrades divert attention from me by smashing up a few shops on Oxford Street this afternoon.”
Unlikely, you might think. But that’s pretty much what one of England’s leading columnists has alleged was in the mind of the Labour leader at Saturday’s anti-cuts march.
You may have heard of a chap by the name of Boris Johnson. As well as being a noted columnist and Mayor of London, the old Etonian also has powers of clairvoyance.
That would explain his piece in the Daily Telegraph this week where he wrote that Mr Miliband would feel “quietly satisfied by the disorder” of a few anarchists in the capital on Saturday.
Mr Johnson warned us not to be fooled by the words of condemnation from the Labour leader following the violence. These were apparently nothing more than “crocodile tears”.
In a feat of stunning journalistic skill, the Mayor of London revealed Labour’s real plan for the economy: “Get a load of aggressive crusties and Lefties to attack the Ritz hotel.”
These, lest we forget, are the thoughts of the elected leader of Europe’s largest city.
I am stunned that Mr Johnson could come up with such comments, accusing the Leader of the Opposition of secretly welcoming violence as a way to distract attention from his supposed lack of policies.
Perhaps the Mayor of London is having another one of his jokes.
Maybe, as with the notorious column where he referred to black people as “piccaninnies”, Mr Johnson is exercising a level of wit which is beyond mere mortals like myself.
Or maybe he’s just an idiot.
Mr Johnson occupies a strange and unique place in British political life. To some on the right he is a hero, a man of staggering articulacy who pricks the pomposity of the politically-correct.
To most of the rest of the country he’s a court jester, a buffoon whose antics add to the gaiety of the nation.
As such, Mr Johnson has licence to be far more controversial than any mainstream politician. He can get away with more because he’s a ‘character’ who speaks his mind – a bit like Brian Clough except without the humanity or the talent.
However, even jesters have their limits. And I would humbly suggest that accusing a political opponent – on the basis of no evidence whatsoever – of being “quietly satisfied” about violence is well past that line.
In continental terms, Mr Johnson’s comments strayed beyond Sarkozy-style eccentricity into the world of Berlusconi-level buffoonery.
Because – as any reasonably intelligent 12-year-old could work out – Ed Miliband would have been the last person who would have wanted violence on Saturday.
For weeks the Labour leader received unsolicited advice from Conservative commentators telling him he would be foolish to attend the demonstration.
Mr Miliband knew that if things had really kicked off at the TUC’s March for the Alternative, he would have been crucified in the right-wing press.
No-one had more to lose than the Labour leader if the demonstration deteriorated into a full-scale riot with him in the middle of it.
As it turned out this was not the case. There was disorder in London on Saturday, but it came from a tiny minority of people.
Thankfully the violence of a few hundred was not sufficiently widespread to overshadow the peaceful protest of a few hundred thousand.
London survived the demonstration largely unscathed. But the reputation of the city’s mayor did not.