The week was dominated by the events of Wednesday when, for a short period, the world - or that part of it interested - was told that I was standing to be the next mayor of London supported by both the Conservative and the Liberal parties. Sadly, it wasn't to be...
Several months earlier, I had been approached by someone influential in the Tory party to see if I would be interested in being their candidate for mayor in next year's election. As a former Labour donor and supporter who then gave money to the Liberals at the last election because I supported their position on Iraq, I was surprised. But after a few meetings, I agreed to have a chat with David Cameron. I suspect many in the Labour party fail to understand what is happening to the Conservatives under Cameron and that the change he has brought about
could be as radical for his party as the arrival of New Labour was for Labour. Most Labour stalwarts I meet hope and believe that Cameron will turn out to be a nasty right-winger, whereas, in reality, I suspect he's more liberal than the current authoritarian Labour Home Secretary. Not that that is too difficult.
What all this means is that there are now three political parties battling over the centre ground and the ideological differences between them are small. The future debate in politics will not be about policy, but about delivery...
In the meantime, I believe the public are increasingly disillusioned with politics and politicians and looking for something new; the plan I proposed to David Cameron when we met was certainly that. When I suggested that I stand as an independent supported by both Conservatives and Liberals on a common platform for London, I thought he, like most politicians, would run a mile. He didn't. Instead, he proved very open to a discussion about what I call 'new politics'. He later discussed the idea with his senior colleagues and said he was willing to put it to the Conservative party in London with his support.
The next step was to get the Liberals on side and over Easter I had discussions with friends in the party. They were interested and open to discussing the idea, which I reported back to Cameron's people; I later discovered that Ming Campbell had been told about the plan. A meeting was set up between Cameron and Campbell for Wednesday to discuss the idea. Sadly, the story broke that day and what should have been a confidential discussion ended up becoming public which, I suspect, effectively killed the idea.
I like Ming, but his instant rejection of the idea showed, I think, a lack of imagination that people in politics so often show. In business or in television - the worlds I come from - thinking the unthinkable is how you become successful. Cameron has taken criticism for doing precisely that and it is unfair; I hope it doesn't stop him doing it again. We live in a world where you have to be brave to win and Cameron showed that he was brave.
This raises a number of interesting points. It shows that David Cameron is able to think the unthinkable and to delve into political areas no one would expect him to. While I certainly did not like the idea of Greg Dyke running under a Conservative banner, I do like the fact that David Cameron is a risk taker. Ming Campbell, however, is emphatically not, and ran for cover at the first sign of grapeshot.
According to Dyke, David Cameron wanted to put the proposal to London Conservatives at a meeting planned for late last week. In the event the meeting was cancelled. I have no idea what the reaction would have been, but with David Cameron's support for the idea there would have been enormous pressure on the London Party to go along with it.
It is also interesting to speculate on the motives of those who made this whole episode public. As someone who played a part in it I have mulled long and hard about what certain people wanted the consequences to be. I'm afraid I shall have to keep those conclusions to myself... Yes, I know, spoilsort...