I’ve just watched tonight’s excellent “Portillo on Thatcher – The Lady’s Not For Spurning” on BBC Four. It was part of the ‘Thatcher Years’ season which seems to have been on since the weekend.
The story, which was narrated and presented by Portfillo, picked up from Margaret Thatcher’s decline and eventual resignation, through the Hague, Duncan-Smith, Howard and eventually Cameron leaderships, interviewing a number (there must be a better collective noun than this – answers on a postcard please!) of current and previous Parliamentarians, some who served in office, others of whom spectated from the sidelines.
The most overwhelming facet of this programme for me was the progress of the Conservative Party nationally as it lumbered from policy vacuum to regurgitated message (remember “Save The Pound”?) in its seemingly unstoppable journey towards oblivion.
It sprang from my TV screen; it shouted loud and clear that we should celebrate David Cameron and his persona; even when Portillo nudged him towards bear traps (“So you’re saying you want to be as amazing as Margaret Thatcher?) he elegantly and deftly sidestepped them. For the first time in years we have a charismatic face of modern Conservatism, and as Conservatives – at all levels, at all times – we must keep our nerve and our counsel whilst all about Labour are losing theirs.
Mind you, as I write this BBC News 24 is telling me that the Conservatives have a twenty point lead over Labour, and Brown’s credibility is lower even than Iain Duncan-Smith’s. The final round might come sooner than we think.