Bellisimo! How We Took Tatton

By Doggart, Sebastian | New Statesman (1996), May 16, 1997 | Go to article overview

Bellisimo! How We Took Tatton


Doggart, Sebastian, New Statesman (1996)


Martin Bell's victory over Neil Hamilton was the most remarkable personal drama of the election campaign. Sebastian Doggart was there.

Tuesday 8 April

I fax my cv to Martin and offer my services. Like him, I was educated at King's College Cambridge and met him a year ago at the carol service. I feel an irresistible urge to help him unseat Neil Hamilton and steer clear of Labour and Lib Dem attempts to manipulate him and compromise his independence.

Thursday 17 April

I drive to Knutsford in the heart of Manchester's BMW belt. Bell's campaign headquarters are a cross between a Montessori classroom and Vogue House. There are coffee cups, UN-style Bell posters and Bell's Belles: Melissa, Martin's 24-year-old daughter, plus two Sophies and an Antonia. I start work, putting stickers on posters.

"Who exactly asked you up here," says a grey-bearded man called David.

I name Anthony, who invited me to join the campaign and whom I have seen walking into the back office. David leads me to a bank of labelled pigeon holes: "Can you identify the name of the man who invited you here? There is no authorised Anthony. I think you'd better go out into the street until this is sorted out." Alan, the Labour Party adviser, warns me not to attempt to enter the back office.

At that moment Anthony appears. It is clear that David knows him and they go into a huddle, which ends with David saying: "Well, you do what you like with him, but it's on your head." Anthony takes me for a walk and explains the anxiety about infiltration by Hamilton spies: "Do you swear that you have never had any formal links to the Conservative campaign or to Neil Hamilton?"

"I do."

Anthony goes off to make check calls on me while I am allowed to continue working in the front office. Before long I am manning the front desk, taking donations from the public and second-guessing Martin's views on issues from the rights of the unborn child to the second ranway at Manchester airport.

Anthony at last emerges to tell me I am clean, just as Martin arrives. His beige suit is crumpled and he limps from his shrapnel injury in Bosnia. I introduce myself and he welcomes me on board.

Anxious to pursue my embryonic career as a spin-doctor, I suggest that we use a white ribbon as a symbol. Anthony hands me Martin's draft policy statement and asks me to expand it from 300 words to 1,000. He states his intention to "remove the stain of corruption from public life", but gives no indication how. He says he is "sceptical about European political union. We are an island people. That is our strength and our character." Warning bells ring: this is Portillo speak.

I write my suggestions in longhand, proposing reforms to the Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee and to cut the salary of Sir Gordon Downey.

Friday 18 April

The Hamiltons are heading towards our office; he garnished with a big blue rosette and chequered blazer, topaz-eyed and drooping chin. This is my first sight of the "enemy". Nell is accompanied by his irrepressible wife, Christine, two blue-rinses, and a media melee. When he reaches our campaign headquarters, I tell him Martin is not in. He grimaces and hands over a white envelope: yet another legal threat.

Bell's Belles have invited me to dinner and I feel mildly flattered to have been let into such an exclusive cabal. Sipping chardonnay, the 18-year-old office manager Sophie is plotting some serious head-count reduction. One volunteer should be sent home immediately for drunkenness; another is clearly a spy. A few glasses down the line, I foolishly venture: "The Labour and Lib Dem guys in the back room are a time-bomb. If Hamilton discovers they're there, he could use it to say Martin is a stooge." The Belies' faces drop.

Saturday 19 April

An article in the Guardian by Jonathan Freedland says we're running something "closer to a Blue Peter appeal than a guerrilla campaign". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bellisimo! How We Took Tatton
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.