Magazine article The Spectator

A New Climax in the Historic Feud between Two Big Fat Rude Tory Journalists

Magazine article The Spectator

A New Climax in the Historic Feud between Two Big Fat Rude Tory Journalists

Article excerpt

Many people naturally assume that the final round of the Tory party leadership is between David Davis and Dave Cameron.

They are seen together on the hustings, smiling at each other through gritted teeth.

They take part in debates. They talk about their underwear. And on 6 December one of them -- very probably Dave rather than David -- will be declared leader of the world's most successful political party.

Yet in a parallel universe there is another contest that is more bitter and, in its own way, far more real. Were these two gentlemen to meet in the same room there might be terrible growlings and baring of fangs.

One is a journalist who may justifiably claim to have set Dave Cameron on his path to greatness. The other is a journalist who is doing everything in his power to ensure that he does not get there. Both will be familiar to readers of this magazine. I am speaking of Bruce Anderson and Simon Heffer.

The amateur naturalist unfamiliar with the Tory jungle might assume that these beasts are members of two closely related species. There are, indeed, many resemblances. They share a common habitat of London clubs: Anderson at the Travellers', Heffer at the Garrick, and both at the Beefsteak. They love lunches, at which Anderson is capable of putting away industrial quantities of alcohol. Both are large, fearsome-looking creatures, though Heffer, who seems to have been zipped into a threepiece pin-striped suit at birth, is of a sleeker variety. In post-prandial mood, Anderson is possibly the rudest man I have ever met, though his bark is worse than his bite, and he undoubtedly wants to be loved. Heffer, who apparently exhibits no such frailties, can also be fantastically rude: at one lunch at which I was present he laid into Ed Balls, then Gordon Brown's right-hand man, and verbally biffed the Chancellor before leaving early. But his preferred form of rudeness is to smoulder silently in a Ted Heath-like way, as though there were no point in engaging with lesser mortals.

There are other similarities. The Scotsborn Anderson and the Essex boy Heffer could be described as outsiders who yearn, despite their highly individual features, to be a member of a pack -- though different ones.

They are both extremely well-read, and have artistic interests that might not be easily suspected. However much they may crash about the jungle, each is perhaps an aesthete crying out for recognition. In the more brutish world in which they operate, they express great hatreds -- Anderson more in person than in print -- and the greatest hatred they have is for each other.

For, despite their many common features, they have profound intellectual and psychological differences. Anderson is a Eurosceptic and a Unionist but above all a Tory. Do not mistake him for an ideologue. A former Marxist who took part in the civil rights marches in Northern Ireland in 1968, he believes, like Lenin, in the supremacy of the party. He can claim the distinction of having identified John Major as a future Tory leader as far back as 1987. When William Hague was Welsh secretary, he was picked out by Anderson for greatness. More than two years ago, in this magazine, he prophesied that David Cameron would lead the Tories. He understands the party as a great lover understands women. His inclination is to be loyal, and once he had fixed on John Major he stayed with him to the bitter end. He is very rarely at odds with the party leadership, and so it was a shock when earlier this year he pronounced in his column in the Independent that David Davis (against whom he has some ancient grudge) was not prime-ministerial material. …

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