By Paul Goodman
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Sir Gerald says of his new appointment: “As a country we face enormous challenges, just as we did when Margaret Thatcher took over the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975. The principles which guided the transformation of Britain then can, when applied to our current problems, do so again." And he promises three campaigns: on competitiveness and growth, social mobility and…defence!
I would raise an eyebrow, were I in Downing Street. The former Defence Minister's knighthood has done nothing to blunt his sharp politics – and, when it comes to the family and defence, Sir Gerald has never been backward about coming forward. He is a great survivor of the now endangered breed of socially traditionalist MPs. Ask him what he thinks about same-sex marriage…and then retire, having lit the blue touchpaper, to the safest corner of the room. And try to ensure that several large tables are placed between you and him.
Sir Gerald's view about defence spending is simple. You can never have too much of it – particularly as far as his beloved Royal Air Force is concerned. (The Aldershot MP is a qualified pilot.) And as a former Minister, he will know the mind of the Department. He and Donal Blaney, CWF's energetic Chief Executive, will be more than willing to put public pressure on the Government if they feel inclined. At any rate, Ccongratulations to Sir Gerald!