Before the last election Lynton Crosby told us all that we should ask ourselves every morning: "What am I going to do today to help the Conservative Party win the next election?" These sentiments would of course be entirely lost on the Fourteenth Marquis of Lothian, who has let rip in the Daily Telegraph this morning. What on earth did he think he was doing by slagging off David Cameron in this most gratuitous way. And on the say that the party is publishing its Public Services Commission Report!
Michael Ancram is a delightful man in private, but he has the political judgement and timing of a blunderbuss. I well remember than in the Hague years he was the first to tear his hair out in frustration at the antics of Michael Portillo (cf the Nick Kochan biography of Ann Widdecombe). He was no doubt also frustrated by those who went on TV to denounce Hague's apologies for what went wrong during the Thatcher years. And yet he is now doing exactly the same to David Cameron despite the fact that Cameron has never trashed Margaret Thatcher's legacy. He was, it should be remembered, deputy leader of the party when Iain Duncan Smith wrote a book called THERE IS SUCH THING AS SOCIETY (I published it). I don't remember him speaking about that as an insult to Margaret Thatcher.
He criticises David Cameron for not paying enough attention to core conservative issues like Europe and tax. Does he not realise that in the 2001 and 2005 general elections we lost in large part due to appearing to only concentrate on these core-vote issues? Despite his history as a 'moderate' he appears unable to comprehend that elections are not won from the hard right - they are won from the centre ground, and, until recently, David Cameron was rather successfully reoccupying that centre ground. To revert to the kind of strategy chosen by Ancram would be electoral suicide. Yes, I would like a firmer line on issues like tax cuts too, and some of the Cameron programme leaves me reaching for the political smelling salts from time to time, but I recognise what has to be done. Careless talk like this costs votes and reinforces the view of a 'lurch to the right' which Gordon Brown would love the Conservatives to do.
Michael Ancrams's pamphlet, which his article was intended to publicise is called Still a Conservative. A Tory MP suggested to me this morning that it should be renamed to Still a Prat. I find it hard to disagree.
Coming on top of yesterday's news on John Bercow and Patrick Mercer this sort of internal navel gazing is intolerable. The people I feelsorry for are the parliamentary candidates who have been slogging their guts out for months. They must look at this shower and wonder why they are bothering.
Politicians like Ancram have had their day. They should leave it to those who have a future ahead of them to plot the party's future.
UPDATE: I have done a bit of media this morning. Sky and News 24. [blush] Dizzy appears to like what I said [/blush]