I enjoyed my Newsnight outing yesterday and it was good to see the BBC giving airtime for the Tory Party to be scrutinised from the right (or should I say from a conservative perspective?). The Today programme could take some notes from the team behind Mr Paxman and Ms Wark…
There are all sorts of things that could be mentioned from last night’s discussion but I was struck by the extent to which Michael Portillo seems to almost despise the right. Clipped for the programme the ‘who dares wins ideologue’ – who, in the 1990s, ignored those of us seeking a more one nation Conservatism – encouraged David Cameron to pick a (Blairite) fight with the forces of conservatism. He sees Mr Blair’s abolition of Clause IV as a model for the new Tory leadership with right-wing (and undoubtedly pin-striped) MPs taking the place of nationalisation. Never mind that traditional Tory positions on Europe, crime and immigration etc resonate with the electorate in a way that Michael Footisms never did…
Mr Portillo’s dislike of the right has been evident in previous of his columns (see here for example) and was on show again in the most recent Sunday Times. Here are three quotes from his 15 January op-ed:
"Michael Howard displayed the memory of a goldfish when in 2005 he campaigned with the same attitudes that had brought the party crushing defeat in 2001." Memory of a goldfish? Is this a way to speak of a former cabinet colleague?
"The Conservatives’ mean-spirited stupidity in the last two elections has denied the public an alternative to Labour." Wasn’t he Shadow Chancellor for the first of those mean-spirited campaigns?
"I was worried that Cameron had populated his shadow cabinet with reactionaries such as David Davis and William Hague." Didn’t MP almost endorse DD in one of his many endorsements of the leadership election?
And my biggest question of all… Why does The Sunday Times continue to employ this man? He’s reinvented himself more times than any politician worthy of serious respect. Let’s all hope and pray that MP’s chum Andrew Neil doesn’t make him editor of The Spectator.