Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Our Tone's mask

From Mr Frederick Forsyth

Sir: Your columnist Bruce Anderson (Politics, 18 March) was percipient to draw attention to the Blairites' deep loathing of Britain and her people. For three years I have been insisting that there is something very odd about this government, and it is this:

The Blairite movement occasionally admits that, behind the weasel-word smokescreen of 'reform' and 'modernisation', it intends to change this country out of all conceivable recognition.

Experience has already shown that it is prepared to lie, cheat, bully and rig ballots to do so. But by the laws of logic you do not seek to change out of all recognition something that you love, whether it be spouse, child, partner, parents, home, community or country. You only seek to change out of all recognition something that you cannot stand.

Behind the screen of smiles, lies, spin-doctoring and furrow-browed phoney concern, Blairism is seized by a deep loathing of this country, its history, character and parliamentary democracy. The unanswered question is how long will it take before the 50 per cent of pollsters' interviewees who still think our Tone is a pretty good egg realise how much he dislikes and despises them.

The Bournemouth speech, in which the Leader repeatedly compared those who oppose him politically to racist murderers and thus delivered the most fascistic speech since Mosley, was an unusual slip of the mask. If the Conservative party has half a wit (all right, another unanswered question) it will not, come the election, allow that speech to fade into oblivion.

Frederick Forsyth


From Mr Simon Morgan

Sir: I have been watching the career of my erstwhile fellow student and JCR president of St Catherine's College, Oxford, the present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with increasing irritation.

The Peter Mandelson (or 'Handlemebum'; as we called him) I remember was so concerned about the weakness of his own chin that he hid it in a rather dubious beard. If the term 'chinless wonder' could apply to anybody, then I would nominate the Honourable Member for Hartlepool before the likes of Captains Nairac and Westmacott any day.

Simon Morgan

Great Braxted, Essex

Newsnight's Awkward Squad

From Mr Mark Mardell

Sir: All of us hacks are occasionally asked to roast a few old chestnuts on a slow day, but Stephen Glover's thoughts on Newsnight ('No news is bad news', 18 March) are so mouldy as to pose a health hazard. So, politicians don't want to come on Newsnight. Surprise, surprise, they don't relish staying up late and sober in order to risk public humiliation if they can't defend their case in a rigorous interview.

In the seven years I have been on the programme there have been periodic outbursts of angst in the ranks about 'wby are we not getting the big hitters?' This usually happens in a fallow, complacent political period. Times change, honeymoons turn to tears and the guests appear. Ken Clarke said on the recent Newsnight at 20 programme that if the day had gone smoothly he didn't bother with Newsnight; if he had to defend himself he did.

Mr Glover singles out two Cabinet members for non-appearance: Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers. The very day last week's Spectator was published Mr Byers appeared on Newsnight explaining why he knew nothing of BMW's plans for Rover. Mr Milburn may not have responded to our polite requests and we would love him to appear, but we made numerous headlines with our programme devoted to the health service, featuring one Tony Blair. It's a bit rich complaining of a boycott by a Cabinet minister when the Prime Minister has to spend 45 minutes defending his corner.

And Paxman leashed? No one who knows Jeremy would ever think that he could be leashed. More importantly, nobody who watches the programme could dream that he has been; Mr Glover presumably did not see his interview a couple of weeks ago with Barbara Roche on Ken Livingstone's unsuitability for office. …

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