Crisis is an essential ingredient in modern politics - without crisis, without some dread threat to civilization as we know it, people will go home, put the fire on and have a cup of tea.
As a result politicians invent existential threats - crises that threaten the very essence of modern society:
There are just 100 days to stop the UK Independence Party becoming a permanent major force in British politics, Nick Clegg warns today.
And this of course is a crisis, a threat to something good and kind - in this case the opportunity for Nick and his friends to get nice, well-paid sinecures over in Brussels and for others of Nick's pals to siphon across lovely 'European Grant Funding'.
The problem here is that the crisis is entirely artificial. And UKIP only become a 'major force' in British politics if we indulge their rather eclectic range of self-contradictory policies - championing liberty when it suits an audience (smoking and drinking) and promoting bans or controls when it doesn't (burkas and immigrants).
What Nick Clegg has done - his Lintilla moment - is switch on the crisis inducer:
It’s a crisis inducer. Set it to ‘Mark Nine’ and… Hurry! They’re after us!
No one! Come on! Through the tunnel! They’re coming!
We really don't have only 100 days to save the universe (or Nick's future EU sinecure) from the dread UKIP. They're maybe going to get a few more MEPs and the Lib Dems might lose most of their MEPs. But that's it really. Nothing else will change. We will have elected a slightly different set of essentially pointless (but very expensive) politicians who can - as we've seen with e-cigs - simply choose to ignore the public's opinion knowing they aren't subject to any proper scrutiny as individual politicians.
Still Nick Clegg has activated his crisis inducer, got big headlines in sympathetic newspapers and got his dwindling troops agitated and active.
There is no real crisis just an artificial and pathetic flap.