Thursday, October 18, 2007

Malcolm has reservations...

... about aspects of this blogging lark.

For one example, take Fraser Nelson in the Spectator's warm and cosy Coffee House. After PMQs on Wednesday, Nelson was doing the requisite lambast on Gordon Brown, which included:
Brown again repeated the lie that Cameron was the "economic adviser" to Norman Lamont, rather than a special adviser. Remind me, what was he doing when he was 25?
Predictably Malcolm managed a minor tut, tut over the ungrammatical "he" in the final sentence. "A decent Dollar Academy education should do better than that..."

Before he could expand on the beauties of a sound grounding in the Classics, distraction therapy moved him onto issues of relevance. So this was part of Malcolm's response:
What's with the jesuitical quibble over Cameron's rôle vis-a-vis Lamont?
Is it that:
  • an adviser to the Chancellor, even one with an Oxford First in PPE, does not have any input into economic discussion, any presence in the Treasury?
  • he doesn't like to be reminded of the events with which Lamont was concerned?
  • or reminded that, after 1993, poor Lamont was stuffed into a political oubliette and his subsequent treatment by the Conservative Party has been less than noble?
Malcolm was rather pleased with that "political oubliette" expression (though he had to check the spelling), if only because it helped him avoid the cliché derived from Georgy Malenkov and the Ust-Kamengorsk power station.

But, what's this in Simon Hoggart's political sketch in today's Guardian?
Soon afterwards Vincent Cable stood up in place of Ming Campbell, who is running a power station in northern Scotland - or some other oubliette. "Where's your knife?" carolled happy Labour MPs.

Behind that lies a moment Malcolm would like to record.

Norman Lamont was MP for Kingston-on-Thames until that seat was redistributed for the 1997 Election. Because he was the designated can-carrier for the EMU debâcle, Lamont had some difficulty in being adopted as a retread in another constituency. He hit lucky (as he thought) in the spa town of Harrogate.

That notion fell apart when Harrogate went for Phil Willis of the LibDems.

In that annus mirabilis, there was an incredible swing (down from 13% to under 9%, and the Party's fifth worst performance anywhere) against Labour in Harrogate: all those Labour tactical votes piled up for Willis.

Good night, Harrogate, for Lamont.

But that's not the story.

At that time Malcolm was in Harrogate on a regular basis. He anticipated that the Tories were ankle-deep in the mire when he noted that they had been reduced to fly-posting, in purple ink, with no obvious party affiliation to Lamont's name.

But that's not the story, either.

Chores done, Malcolm would retire to a place of liquid refreshment. The place in question is situated a bare 150 yards from the Conservative Club. There, in a corner, was Lamont, alone, unaccompanied, unnoticed. Twice a candidate himself, Malcolm felt that violated several cardinal rules of campaigning, for any party.

Sad, really. Almost made Malcolm feel sorry for Lamont. It certainly told him what to expect when the count came in.

So, asks Malcolm, how come Hoggart gets paid for stuff others do for free? Sphere: Related Content

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