Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


LET me begin by thanking the Prime Minister for giving me something to write about this month.

Having written these columns for over a decade my pattern is to choose my subject the weekend before and then to work it up for my Friday deadline.

Last weekend, nothing, yadda, zilch. There was the threat of thermo-nuclear war with North Korea hanging about and other minor irritants but nothing that I wanted to get my teeth into.

Then on Tuesday morning - Zap, Pow, Boom - like the Batman cartoons of old, a real fight begins. Admittedly, Batman didn't often start fights with those barely able to get up from the floor; but never mind.

Another person who comes out of this week rather well is the former Chancellor George Osborne. Remember all the criticism when he took on the Editorship of the Evening Standard? Well, the critics muttered, how can he possibly do that and remain as MP for Tatton? The answer, it turns out, was that George had told anyone willing to listen that the PM would call a snap General Election. By taking the Evening Standard job, he put his not inconsiderable money where his mouth was; sure in the knowledge that he wouldn't be an MP for long. Seems like a mighty clever decision in retrospect.

My third candidate for person of the week is Sir Stanley Baldwin. In case you have forgotten, Sir Stanley was a three time Tory Prime Minster who won the largest election victory in British history.

The year was 1931 and as the Great Depression engulfed Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Government, Balwin put together a National Government with a handful of Socialists and Liberals and went to the country two months later.

Arguing that he needed a large majority to face the difficult time ahead, to provide stability and strong leadership, he was rewarded with 470 Tory seats. Labour lost 206. Sound familiar? In a single stroke, Mr Baldwin exploited Labour's divisions, split both them and the Liberals, and became unassailable. In the 1935 General Election he slipped back to 421 seats, but still held an eyewatering majority of 235. The 1930s was the Tory decade par excellence; their enemies were routed. …

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