Sunday, October 26, 2003

I don't know ...

What to make of the IDS mullarkey. The Tories were (before the latest maelstrom of rumour and speculation) clawing back the Labour poll lead, a few decent policies (and a couple of dogs) had been unleashed. Gordon Brown's arithmetic was coming unstuck - bad for Britain but good for IDS.

Then a slew of negative stuff which wasn't all made up by BBC and Times journalists. IDS must have something, if so many Central Office types hate his guts. Certainly sounds as if he doesn't do schmooze - not even to major donors. Praiseworthy but impolitic. If he can't even thank the guy who lends him a helicopter, we're unlikely to see an Ecclestone-style cash-for-fag-ads deal.

But one thing is certain. Any leadership change will be a PR disaster for the party. Those who think that an Oliver Letwin (or suitably liberal clone) will suddenly result in the media attack dogs laying off must be on another planet. (A digression. Some 25 or thirty years ago, Popes (John Paul I) and Soviet Presidents (Andropov, Chernenko) had a habit of lasting for rather short periods. It was a subject of popular humour. This is what will happen if IDS goes.)

The only way removal of IDS, even to be replaced by the Blessed Michael Howard, would make sense is as part of a long term strategy which acknowledges the cultural as well as political weakness of the Tories, and has plans to combat said weakness. Sir, I don't see any such strategy. I see a few people milling about in a panic, encouraged by a crowd of media onlookers, and a much larger group of people wondering what's going on, and whether they should be milling too, as 'everybody else is'. The ghost of poor Chicken Licken roams the corridors of Westminster.

One person will be pleased if IDS goes - Tony Blair. Another will be delighted - Nick Griffin.

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