Wednesday, March 30, 2005

fight or flight (sorry)

I watched Newsnight last night, feeling fairly sympathetic towards Howard Flight, who certainly made a gaffe when he admitted that the tories ultimately aim to cut public spending, but nonetheless only said what every tory knows and in any case did not deserve to lose his political career for it. It's really not so hard to find a politician departing from the party line if you follow him with a tape recorder. So I was looking forward to his interview with Gavin Essler, even if I think that Flight is very wrong in his hankering after a return to thatcherite values.

Yet his brief appearence was so lamentably badly executed, he was so sulky and superior that it was hard to feel sympathy. Flight represents a whole raft of politicians that we rarely see (anecdotally, I gather that the people of Arundel don't see him that often, either) and so we cannot judge him as a man until he is unveiled. I do not mean to say that a five minute interview convinces me the man is not worth the trouble, but it's instructive how so many politicians who we automatically assume are able, coherent and clear-thinking turn out to be alarmingly unimpressive.

Instead of taking the opportunity to be candid, open and constructive Flight instead assumed a pained expression, fidgeted about, loudly denounced 'labour spin', proclaimed his innocence and for all the world came across like a petulant five year old caught with his fingers in the sweetie jar. His performance was extraordinary, and I suspect will put paid to his hopes that his local party will rise up in his support. Distasteful though Howard's actions were, you suspect that the local tories will keep quiet with the election so close.

On the other hand, this is the tories, we're talking about, so who knows?


Anonymous said...

On the Radio last night they were saying that Conservative Central Office had put out a memo to media outlets requesting that they say 'Conservatives' not 'Tories'. Tory is a slightly derogatory term, but thats why everyone uses it. It comes originally from a word meaning Irish Pig Rustler I think.

jonathan said...

Actually I think I can remember them issuing the same directive a couple of years back, when Hague or IDS or someone took over. Didn't seem to make a blind bit of difference.

I think that was around the same time they tried to rebrand themselves from The Conservative Party to the softer sounding 'conservatives'. Ha ha.