Nathaniel Bones writes from Westminster: So, Lord Lawson says Prime Minister David Cameron should stop copying Tony Blair and model himself on Margaret Thatcher. I suppose that as Lord Lawson was Chancellor in Thatcher’s cabinet for six years (June 1983 to October 1989) then he knows a thing or two about the Blue Baroness .
Yet, isn’t this really the sort of naff idea that tells us about the dire state of British politics and the near mindless comparisons the likes of Lawson of Blaby make at a time when the obvious is clear: the British political leadership is incompetent and so much so that not one of them (with the exception of the former Times hack Michael Gove) is capable of being their own man instead of imitating some icon from years gone by.
You’d have thought with all his advantages of birth, wealth, education Mr Cameron wouldn’t have to be another Blair, unless of course he really wants to be remembered as the most unpopular ex-PM of the Decade. (But Blair’s the Outright Winner anyway).
But I am wondering which if any of past Tory PMs would be worth following.
Thatcher? A political phenomenon who created a nasty society in her own image. And another thing: Cameron wouldn’t look good in royal blue toting a handbag.
Everyone says Winston Churchill. Really? True, WSC was a splendid wartime leader but he was never anywhere near to being a good Prime Minister when he returned to Downing Street in 1951.
Edward Heath? Nice enough man and brave with a World War II Military Cross to prove it. But poor old Ted sat in solitary confinement and when he went to the country with the question ‘Who Governs Britain?’ he seemed to forget that it was supposed to be him. Worse still, he did not see that if he had to ask that question then he shouldn’t have had the gig in the first place. That’s what the electorate figured and booted him into touch.
How about Harold Macmillan? A great man and with, as we saw one Friday the 13th in 1962, a good knife throwing act as he stabbed in the back so many of his political colleagues. After he sacked most of his cabinet, the then Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe sniffed: ‘Greater love hath no man than he lay down his friends for his life.’
So if the Tories don’t measure up what about Blair’s predecessors, the Labour lot?
The first ever Labour PM was Ramsay MacDonald. He was a good example because he had to govern with Liberal support. Like the present double-act it didn’t get the country far. But he tried hard.
Clem Attlee after WWII? He was all right. Lots of new legislation (NHS & nationalisation of mines, pits, railways etc) but most of all, Clem was a very civilised man. We know that because he had a telex machine installed in 10 Downing Street so that he could follow the cricket scores.
That really says it all. If, as Lord Lawson appears to believe, Cameron is incapable of being his own man and has to have a hero that he can pretend to be, then let’s go for Attlee. He got things done and he loved cricket and apart from political anoraks, hardly a member of the general public has ever heard of him. That’s how it should be.
Maybe that’s what will happen to the two likely lads in Downing Street. Nick Clegg will disappear to take up his true calling, which is clearly time-share salesman, and Cameron will be forgotten because no one knows what he stands for.
I suppose Lawson’s got a point: at least we all knew what Blair and Thatcher were about. Too many of us still have the scars.