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Jerry Hayes

It must be awful being a Tory Rightwinger. Nobody, calls, Nobody writes. Even the Samaritans hang up on them.

July 24th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

It really must be quite awful being a Tory right winger at the moment. Nobody calls, nobody writes and unless they say something balls achingly stupid, nobody listens. Even the Samaritans hang up on them.  And it must be so frustrating to have as much relevance to modern politics as a cat flap in a submarine; or worse, Ed Balls.  As they sit in their bijou baronial halls with steins of bitterness dribbling onto their faded Lederhosen, they reminisce about the good old days. Perhaps a little chuckle at how the huddled masses would tremble in fear at some deranged Thatcherite policy emanating from the poisoned pen of Sir Alfred Sherman. Maybe a little sigh, when they recall the halcyon days of when Simon Heffer and Peter Hitchens were regarded a political thinkers. And now where are they now? Stuck in “Dun Rantin”, a retirement home for the journalistically ignored, their smoking jackets exchanged for ones that don’t do up at the front.

But what seriously rankles the Conservative right is just about everything they stand for is detested by the majority of the voters. And what about those two jumped up cutewhorists Cameron and Clegg?  Their  bloody pipsqueakery offers pragmatism and commonsense, rather than the cold steel of authoritarianism. And dammit, the little upstarts are popular with the great unwashed. The Tory Right, are the same people who moaned when John Major won the 1992 election and cheered when Chris Patten, the author of ever winning Thatcher manifesto, lost his seat.  These are the same people whose bloody minded vanity and ball crushing arrogance, transformed a decent and caring Conservative Party, under Major and Clarke, into a slow motion train crash for a generation.

Now David Davis may, with a twinkle in his eye and a stiletto behind his back, may make as many snide remarks about the coalition as he likes. And political commentators, who should know better, will interpret them as being the whiff of cordite before the first shots are fired in the right’s battle to be heard. Don’t be fooled. The Right never want just to be heard, they want control. And they have as much chance of doing that as Hazel Blears growing a penis.

It really is time for the right to understand that this Coalition isn’t a cynical trick to hobble the Lib Dems and produce a Tory majority. It isn’t a short term political fix. It’s roots are spreading and it’s foundations get stronger as the days pass. Those who try to undermine it, do so at their peril and will unleash serious public anger. So what have we got?  Davis and Ashcroft, two old men who desperately miss being on the inside track and a dement of dandruffed old retainers.  Well, these sort of guys have taken the Conservative Party on enough white knuckle rides to oblivion. If they want the political ghost train  to embark on a journey to Nowhereland, feel free to blow the whistle.  Just don’t expect too many people to jump aboard. Margaret Thatcher had a choice phrase for malcontents. What was it? Ah yes. Moaning Minnies.

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My hairdryer experience with Norman Tebbit

June 17th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

I wonder what my  dear old friend Alan Watkins would have made of this coalition. Sitting in his usual spot at El Vinos, sipping his champagne, it would have probably been, one word, “rum”. Alan was one of that dying breed of journalists of which only Iain Aitkin, Chris Moncrieff, Geoffrey Goodman and Paul Routledge remain, whose breadth of knowledge, people and issues are unrivalled. He was loved by the people he skewered and most important of all, trusted. Lunchtimes with Alan could last into the early evening and he was a renowned three bottler. But what would have shocked him is the speed at which David Cameron has radically reformed the Conservative Party. It will be some time before the Colonel and Mrs Mads who run the coffee mornings and shepherd’s pie evenings in the Shires will fully come to terms with it all, but so far there has been little real complaint. Evena died in the wool Thatcherites, like Lord Young are fully on board. And not too much grinding and gnashing of teeth from Norman Tebbit, who smiles upon Cameron  with the warmth of an undertaker measuring  up a corpse.

Many years ago when Norman Tebbit was Party Chairman, I wandered into the Commons with a spring in my step. The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting and all was well with the world, until a gothic gloom descended as The Chairman alighted from his bullet proof car. “Morning Norman”, I chirped, “lovely day”. Almost in slow motion, the death’s head turned to me, the eyes twinkling like a brass plate on a coffin. “No it’s not”.  ”But why?” Was my cheery enquiry. ”You, you little cu*t. I saw you on tv last night asking the government to spend more on pensioners and the Health Service”.  “But”, says I, ” I was only being reasonable ”. At that I received the full finger jabbing, hair drier bollocking that would make Alex Ferguson look like the Andrex Puppy. “Listen, you little shit. You’re a Tory backbencher. It’s not your job to be reasonable. Your first duty is loyalty to your leader, then your party and nothing else.” And with the smell brimstone and sulphur still lingering in the air, off he went, probably to a seal clubbing weekend in Nova Scotia.

Some years later ,when he made a personal attack on John Major at a fringe meeting at a Party conference I reminded him about his lecture on loyalty. I suspect my witty aside of , “who’s the cu*t now”, did not endear me to him. That and filming his speech in slow motion for channel 4 with the voice of Freddy Mercury singing, “I’m going quietly mad”. Things were never quite the same after that.

But what is so remarkable about Cameron and the coalition is that it oozes reasonableness. Good God, even the cabinet are consulted. And as for Nick Clegg approving the removal of the loan to Forgemasters, right next door to his constituency, it showed a level of political courage and example, I did not think possible from any minister. It is a clear warning to other ministers that if the DPM can make a personal sacrifice, so must they. It will be painful, it will be unpopular, but it hammers home the message of, “We are all in this together”. But Alan would still think it was all a bit rum. He will be sorely missed.

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