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Jerry Hayes

Thatcher goes to Number 10: the return of the mummy

June 8th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Having shared a desk with Enoch Powell, read a Liz Jones column and seen Frankie Boyle live, I am no stranger to psychoanalysis. But what weird mental aberration persuaded officials that it would be a good wheeze to invite Margaret Thatcher to Number 10 to have a chat about her concerns with the Coalition? It’s not going to appease the Tory right, who are spoiling for a fight whatever Cameron does and is a gift to the Rampton Wing of the Labour press. Wheeling the old dear out for a photo call with Cameron and Clegg at a time when the Treasury axe is being taken to public services, doesn’t quite send out the right message. But Thatcher, whatever you think of her, is a symbolic political fetish of great potency. She stands for courage, determination, leadership and singlemindedness. She is also, of course, as mad as a box of frogs. Even, Gordon Brown  invited her over for tea. God knows what they talked about. Perhaps she wondered where all the immigrants were coming from.

The most remarkable thing about Thatcher is that for someone who has become an icon of the Western world, she has absolutely no sense of humour. She could not understand, when being fimed by ITN in 1979,  why the crew collapsed in hysterical laughter when she picked up a Black and Decker drill saying it was the largest tool she’d ever had in her hand. Or the time, when astride a large field gun in the desert, she remarked that she hoped it didn’t jerk her off.

And not only without humour, but also rather unwordly. I’ll never forget the time when Willie Whitelaw slumped into an armchair in the smoking room with a bucket of whisky clamped to his shaking hand at the time of the government AIDS campaign. ”What’s the matter Willie?” we chirped. Ashen faced, he told us that he had tried to explain anal sex to the great lady. I would have loved to have been a fly on that particular wall.

But she did like a drink. I remember being on a large gin palace with her sailing towards a newly refurbished Tower bridge which she was due to light up. The Remembrancer, the City of London’s head flunky, couldn’t undertand why she was spitting tacks. ” Ive been filling her up with the best champagne”, he wailed,”I just don’t understand”. When it was explained to him that her tipple was J and B whisky, a police launch was despatched to Bottoms Up and civility was restored.

Yet Thatcher arouses deep primal feelings. Worshipped  by the right and ferociously hated by the left. When John MacDonnell said that his quip about  assasinating her was a joke, he was sending a very clear gutteral message to his supporters. There was more than just a glint in his eye.

The difference between the coalition and Thatcher is that Clegg and Cameron are only too aware that, drastic as the cuts must be, they must be managed in socially responsible way. I don’t think she had a clue the misery that some of her policies would cause, nor now how divided society would become. The Coalition is not going to make that mistake. Far better to launch it as a blood, sweat and tears national crusade, implemented by consensus rather than brute force.

So when Margaret Thatcher is invited to Tea at Number 10 let let be for no other reason than an act of compassion for a weary old lady wanting to relive old memories through rheumy eyes. But certainly not for advice

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Hello (This is my first post so go easy on me)

May 26th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Jerry HayesSome of you will have heard of me, others not. From 1983-1997 I was the Tory MP for Harlow, until the New Labour Tsunami swept me aside. Luckily I had a life raft, namely writing, broadcasting and the criminal bar. But best of all, I was helped by some really great journo mates. Some may remember me on the James Whale Show, others as political editor of PUNCH. Sadly, Al Fayed pulled the plug. Now I’m full time at the bar, but really miss my column. So cases permitting, I’m going to have a crack at blogging. For anyone that’s mildly interested I’m on the independent left of the Conservative Party. During the Thatcher years I was regarded as a rebel. Heaven knows why, I just believed in social justice and pragmatism. But in those days that was about as popular as a rat sandwich. On one occasion I reduced our majority from 140 to 4. I was not always popular with the right.

So here it goes.

The fellow who advised David Cameron to take on the 1922 Committee without bothering to read the rules should be easy to spot. He’d be the one hobbling from the Cabinet Office back door with a one way ticket and unlikely to make a donation to the National Sperm Bank for a considerable time. Backbenchers should be hugged close. Clegg and Cameron should learn from the mistakes of Blair, Brown and Heath who treated them with barely concealed contempt. They must wander the bars, the Tea room and the lobbies pressing the flesh. Peter Walker once persuaded Ted Heath to chat to some of the boys in the Smoking room. “You remember Reggie”, said Walker, “made a speech yesterday”. Dear Reggie, a knight of the Shires, a face carved from Spam and whose gene pool you would not drown, leaned forward for a compliment. “Yes”, said Ted “and bloody awful it was too”. Heath was never invited to press the parliamentary flesh again. In politics bullshit only works when you lay it on with at trowel. Cameron and Clegg ooze with charm and bonhomie. There won’t be a dry gusset in the tea room The guys will love it.

An early lesson Cameron must learn is that the right take no prisoners. The corpse may twitch, but it can come to life and bite you in the leg when you least expect it. When John Major was first installed in Downing Street he received a visit from George Gardner, the leader of the powerful 92 group. “Prime Minister if you do things our way your life will be so much easier”. “Thank you George” said an ever polite Major “now kindly fuck off”. The rest is history.

No matter how well this coalition does, the right will feel betrayed and use any excuse to cause trouble. Like the left they need a totem pole to dance round. They need certainty, they need blind faith and most important of all, a craven image to worship. They had all that in Thatcher and their bereavement at her political death still runs deep. So don’t wage war on them, there is no need as the coalition has a good working majority. And don’t treat them like Mrs Duffy. Their views may seem strange, provincial and sometimes bigoted, but quite a lot of the grass roots share them. It’s difficult to teach an old dogma new tricks. But with tender loving care it can be done.

And finally, three words of warning for the twelve newbies who some might say, have had the arrogance and mind blowing stupidity to put themselves up for election to the 22 executive. “You’re being used”. Forget all this nonsense that you are there to be independent minded. That’s Hattie’s line and she is up to mischief. The Whips only want you for your bodies, not your views. They need to get government business through and not be messed around by the kindergarten. My advice to them is if they want to rebel chose the issue carefully, be sure of your facts and consult with everyone, particularly the old hands. If not glittering careers will transform into parliamentary road kill very quickly indeed.