O MacGuffin

quinta-feira, outubro 30, 2003

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party
por Boris Johnson (in The Daily Telegraph, 30/10/2003)
“There was a total silence in the committee room as Iain Duncan Smith's fate was read out, as if we were all suddenly stunned by yet another Tory assassination, yet another regicide. Iain was a far better Tory leader than he was often given credit for.
He rescued the party's position in the polls; he promoted a host of new policies on health, education and welfare; he stormed to victory in the council elections. Over the last few days, as the crisis enveloped him, he showed considerable courage, character and elan.
Even among the 90 of us who voted to end his leadership, there was real sadness at his passing. I voted as I did, not because I had wanted a leadership contest, or precipitated one. I voted for change, with a heavy heart and a troubled conscience, because it seemed to me that it was better, once the crisis began, to finish the business now.
The alternative, once the 25 letters were in, was to let a wounded leader stagger on, having already sustained what would have been by any standards a major revolt against his authority.
Both options were ghastly; one offered fractionally more hope than the other. If the Tory party wants to avoid turning a crisis into a disaster, it must now find a way of choosing a successor as quickly and cleanly as possible.
Why should this question be pushed out to the membership again, to the poor bloody infantry? Perhaps the party in the country wants to spend three months, as we did last time, gnawing our entrails while Charlie Kennedy does his ridiculous act of impersonating the leader of the Opposition. I can't believe it.
As Iain Duncan Smith pointed out yesterday, there are big political events coming up. There is the Hutton report, where Blair has been caught out in at least one barefaced lie. He said that he had no hand in the leaking of the name of poor David Kelly.
That lie was nailed fair and square by Sir Kevin Tebbit, permanent secretary at the MoD. He amply confirmed prime ministerial involvement in pushing the name of David Kelly out to the press, a move which - and this is a heavy but irresistible conclusion - led to that man's tragic end.
Doesn't Blair deserve to be held to account for this? Indeed, when people have asked me, over the last few days, "whether I think the leader can survive", I say that it is quite astonishing that Tony Blair can remain in office, having tried so pathetically and so unnecessarily to cover up his actions.
We need someone who can expose the detail of that prime ministerial deception. We need a leader of forensic skill, and we need him fast. And when I say we, I don't just mean the Parliamentary Conservative Party. The whole country needs him.
Many people are now hugely over-borrowed, at a time when interest rates may be about to rise. The Government has made their position worse by raising taxes exorbitantly and failing to use the money wisely to improve public services.
Shouldn't someone explicate what Gordon Brown has done and hold him to account for his larceny? That is the job of the official Opposition, and we can't wait for three months while Tory members engage in disputations about who should step up to the plate.
The democratic system looked cool and modern and Scandinavian. Instead, it has led to a nightmare: first there was the business of the secret collection of 25 MPs' signatures, a dreadful game of blind shove-ha'penny in which conspirators egg on their colleagues to push the leader over the edge.
Then there is the demented system of asking activists to pronounce on the mettle of people they can only know by reputation.
Many party supporters have offered me all sorts of advice over the last few days. But no one has said they think the question should be remitted, once again, to the membership. Quite the reverse. The message I get is that this was a problem generated by the parliamentary party and the problem can be solved by the parliamentary party.
I do not mean that this is a job for the men in grey suits or a cabal of cigar-smoking whips. The whole parliamentary party, after all, is little more than a cabal. There are only 160-odd Tory MPs; we fit easily into Committee Room 14. Is it beyond the wit of man for us to sort this out by ourselves?
All it requires is a sense of selflessness by a very small number and a willingness to work for the good of the group. The point of being an opposition MP is not, surely, to exercise one's political virility by engaging in sporadic leadership contests. It is to help your party to get into power.
That is why whoever succeeds IDS should as a matter of urgency implore the following people to serve on the front bench. William Hague is too brilliant a politician to languish on the backbenches. Ken Clarke strikes fear in Labour hearts. Michael Portillo would add hugely to the party's strength. Is there no role that can be found, commensurate with their dignity? There are many others, new faces and old.
Now is the time for all good men, especially those who have so far ruled themselves out, to come to the aid of the party. It is a time for guts and determination and unity. Because believe me, this may be our last chance.”

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