True Opposition will tame this Government and relight Tory fire

Short of a Damascene conversion to telling the truth - or avoiding the lie, which would be something to be going on with - we can now safely leave Tony Blair’s Government to its inevitable fate. After the first week in November 1998, it is now bracketed with second hand car salesmen in the league table of purveyors of credibility. Sooner or later it will become a joke and eventually it will end up a sick one in the voters’ eyes.

Short of a Damascene conversion to telling the truth - or avoiding

the lie, which would be something to be going on with - we can now

safely leave Tony Blair’s Government to its inevitable fate. After the

first week in November 1998, it is now bracketed with second hand car

salesmen in the league table of purveyors of credibility. Sooner or

later it will become a joke and eventually it will end up a sick one in

the voters’ eyes.



At present there seems little point in expecting it to be smitten like

Saul. This is a Government which learns nothing from experience. After

the lies and prevarications of the Bernie Ecclestone scandal and the

little affair of Romano Prodi, the ex-Italian Prime Minister whom Mr

Blair approached on Rupert Murdoch’s behalf, we have to add the tortuous

handling of ex-Welsh Secretary Ron Davies’ demise and the Sun’s bitter

’outing’ of Messrs Brown and Mandelson as europhiles.



Word was then handed down that the Prime Minister had carpeted his

Chancellor and Industry Secretary for being off message. But when we

opened our Sunday papers we found Mr Blair leading a new charge into a

single European currency.



’Blair speeds death of pounds ; PM wants the euro as soon as possible’

blared the Express on Sunday, run by Mr Blair’s friend and

euro-campaigner, Lord Hollick. Why should anyone any longer believe a

word this Government says?



After 18 months of slavery to Labour’s spin doctors, journalists I talk

to are thinking it is time they made a dash for the freedom of

cynicism.



This presents the Tories with a chance to shake off their chains

too.



I would be happier for the country if I thought they would take it. All

Governments, as I know from experience, need their Oppositions. This has

had none to speak of so far and its reputation is suffering as a

result.



But can you see the slightest sign of life in the Tories beyond William

Hague’s occasional spark in clashing with Mr Blair at the dispatch

box?



Conservatives in the country are crying out for some hits. Instead, we

learn Tory Central Office is thinking of killing its present messenger,

Gregor Mackay and replacing him with a more expensive model. So far

Andrew Neil, Jonathan Holborow, ex-editor of the Mail on Sunday, and

Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun’s political editor, have been canvassed since

Peter Mandelson is (fortunately) not available.



Frankly, this is putting the cart before the horse. The Tories will not

rediscover their zest until their full-time politicians do. The fault,

dear William, lies not in your spin doctors but in yourselves that you

are underlings. What Britain, let alone Tories, needs is an Opposition

gorging itself on the red meat of Blairite opportunism, inconsistency,

piety and prevarication. Even Mr Campbell might then think twice before

telling his next porkie.



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