What strange systems we created for ourselves. One extreme example was everywhere apparent in Brighton this week where the supposed zenith of democratic politics - the incumbent government's party conference -
What strange systems we created for ourselves. One extreme example was everywhere apparent in Brighton this week where the supposed zenith of democratic politics - the incumbent government's party conference - was taking place behind sheets of steel mesh, against which cardboard banners carrying the legend 'Building a future for all' tapped eerily in the onshore breeze.

Labour may be about 'a future for all', but security still had to be massively stepped up in the wake of a suspected terrorist bombing of the MI6 building in London last week.

A similar paradox between reality and aspirational politics has beset media secretary Chris Smith who greeted the news that ITV would move its Nightly News back to 22.00 for three nights a week with the 'observation' that the BBC might therefore want to rethink its plans to move its 9 O'Clock News to 22.00.

Smith believes his intervention does not run counter to his insistence on 'light-touch' regulation. By making a point about the inadvisability of BBC 1 going head to head with ITV's evening news he is merely doing his job, he said at a Labour party fringe meeting of the Institute for Public Policy Research. But what his answer neglects is any acknowledgement that regulators - who themselves look to Smith to ensure their continued existence in the future - are influenced by the observations of powerful politicians including himself.

The Independent Television Commission's compromise with ITV over News at Ten is some mark of success for its new chief executive Patricia Hodgson who was quick to take up the laurel branch offered at Edinburgh by Granada Media chairman Charles Allen on ITV's behalf. And the move puts the ball in this tiring ping pong news game back into the BBC's court.

Some elements of the board of governors are with director general Greg Dyke in refusing to back down over a decision to move the BBC 1 news to a later slot. But, in another instance of systematised politics, the governors must decide whether to risk their own future by taking a stand on the issue. The race is on to see which of the BBC or ITV moves its news first.