Saturday, May 03, 2008
Were You Still Up For Portillo? I Was...
On local election night I laid into Michael Portillo, live on BBC1. Some bright spark has uploaded the video on YouTube. Let me explain why I did it.
Michael Portillo is a man of many talents. He writes well and is a brilliant presenter of TV documentaries. But he has been away from frontline politics for so long that he is out of touch with the modern Conservative Party. He lost his Sunday Times column recently and I am told that a large part of the reason was that it was felt he had little new to say and his Tory contacts were yesterday's men.
Portillo specialises in attacking the very party that gave him a national platform. He behaves now in the the same way he behaved as a member of William Hague's Shadow Cabinet - betraying those whose trust he ought to enjoy. It was very revealing to find out recently that William Hague hadn't spoken to Portillo since 2001 until February this year.
Michael Portillo's trouble is that he clearly believes that it should be him, not David Cameron who is about to lead the Tories back to Number 10. Having over the last seven years constantly predicted that the Tory Party is finished, he loses no opportunity to pour petrol onto any falmes which happen to be licking around the feet of the Party.*
I'm not asking for craven loyalty to the Party which made him - we're all entitled to express constuctive criticism from time to time - but his constant snipings on THIS WEEK lack any sort of perspective.
Michael Portillo's behaviour at the BBC Election Night event at City Hall told me everything I needed to know. He slagged off Boris and then proceeded to say that 44% was a pretty poor result for the Conservatives. He spent the rest of the evening on his own, reading a book called LOST BOYS. He made no effort to talk to anyone there apart from Polly Toynbee and Fraser Nelson who happened to sit down beside him on the same sofa. He ignored all the young people there and from what I could gather the BBC people didn't think much of his behaviour either.
His attitude on Thursday night went a long way to explain why he failed to win the party leadership in 2001. If you treat people with disdain, don't be surprised if they then react badly to it.
* reworded following your comments in the comment thread!