Thursday, February 16, 2006
Hague set to become Cameron Rival?
Another example is Kenneth Baker. For some reason I found this guy the quintessence of everything I hated in the Thatcherite ethos: smarmy, biddable and prepared to trim every policy to gain a personal purchase on power. He supported Heath with the same loathsome enthusiasm as he did Thatcher and then, when he claimed the victory in Wandsworth council in 1990 reflected the merits of the Poll tax, I felt like becoming an urban guerilla. Then I met the guy a few years back to interview him in connection with some research and he was so charming, so helpful, so insightful, so mocking of the insincere sarabands of politics, I could not fail to warm to him.
Hague's performance at PMQs yesterday-where he substituted for a leader busy changing nappies- had a similar effect on me. His opening joke was a cracker: 'It's probably the first time in history of question time that all three parties have been represented by a stand-in for the real leader.' Gordon could be seen smiling but inwardly I bet he was growling. Later on, when he clashed again with Blair over the terror legislation, Hague advised him to seek the 'opinion of a decent lawyer... you've probably got one at home.'
Someone in this form prompts one to wonder if he might ever regret stepping down and then renouncing any further ambition for the top job. My reading of politicians is that, once they have caught it, they never really shake off the disease; they always somewhere, deep down, are convinced they would make a wonderful Prime Minister. I wouldn't mind betting that Cameron, in the increasingly likely event he becomes PM, will find a rival in his Cabinet, no less serious than the one faced by Blair since 1997 in the form of his near neghbour.
Yes, he was that awful.
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