Welcome to this tragi-comedy of self-deception

IF YOU were to write an epic novel set inside the Conservative Party over the past 20 years, Neil Hamilton would be your central character.

In the Eighties when greed was good and the Tories consistently won elections and law suits, Hamilton put out the writs and dined at the Ritz. He became a minister, and in what must have been a particularly thin year, was named "Parliamentary Wit of 1990". Ten years on he is a ruined man, his party is in tatters but bizarrely, neither of them really believe that they have done anything at all wrong.

The level of self-deception is almost heroic. Christine Hamilton is the upper-middle class equivalent of those angry mums who storm into the head teacher's office shouting, "My Darren never done nothing! He always gets picked on by you teachers for burning down school buildings just 'cos he happened to have some firelighters and a box of matches in his pocket." Against all the evidence Christine still believes that her husband is being picked on. Never mind that Parliament found him guilty, never mind a jury found him corrupt, never mind that 60 per cent of voters in a safe Conservative seat voted for the anti-sleaze candidate. She's his little boy and they're all ganging up on him again.

There is an enormous arrogance that comes with this refusal to admit the error of your ways. When you consider how great Neil Hamilton's fall has been, only then do you get a sense of the level of pride that came before it. Unlike John Profumo who accepted his fate and threw his life into charitable works, today's Tories are proven to be dishonest and then just carry on lying about their innocence. The bizarre thing is that when Hamilton and Archer and Aitken look indignant and victimised they really seem to believe it. They've heard their own lies so often that they have finally become convinced by them. The look of outrage and injustice on the Hamiltons' faces outside the High Court reminded me of the incredulous expression of Mr and Mrs Ceausescu when they were executed in Romania 10 years ago this week. They really can't see what they have done wrong.

Neil Hamilton has now achieved the almost impossible task of making Mohamed Al Fayed look like the good guy. Of course, as a Fulham supporter, my problem with Al Fayed is that he is not nearly corrupt enough. All season I have been appalled by our club chairman's consistent failure to bribe referees. Week in, week out, outrageously fair decisions are made in favour of the opposing teams. Not one visiting goalie has been sent off for handball. Not one penalty has been awarded for blocking a Fulham shot on goal. But with the politicians Al Fayed has been more generous. It seems strange that a businessman can stand up in court insisting that he has indeed bribed politicians and nobody is concerned whether or not this might constitute an offence.

Somebody else will have to take on Al Fayed, and this duty must now fall to the Royal Family. This will be the first great libel trial of the next century. The Duke of Edinburgh suing the Harrods boss over his loony allegations made about a plot to murder Diana. I'm sure his Royal Highness must know some rich people who could help fund his legal bill. Prince Philip will sit in Court 13, his plucky and ever-loyal wife Elizabeth at his side, biting back her tears and clutching her husband's arm as she recalls how hurtful the allegations against him have been. Perhaps Her Majesty may have to go into the witness box herself.

"Did you have champagne and caviar for breakfast that morning?"

"I expect so, that's what we have most days.''

Of course whatever the outcome of that trial, the Hamiltons will interpret it as further proof of their innocence. When you have become as detached from reality as they are, every piece of evidence serves to convince you further of the fantasy into which you have disappeared.

And for Neil and Christine Hamilton's self-deception, read the collective psyche of today's Tory party. They really believe that schools are attempting to actively promote homosexuality. They really believe that the Labour Party is full of IRA supporters and that Tony Blair is determined to surrender control of this country to the Reichstag. In the Eighties their values were the common currency, but now their homophobia and their petty jingoism are the irrelevant rantings of a by-gone age. Now the Conservatives are like a lunatic fringe party. Soon we can expect to see them outside Woolworth's next to the Socialist Workers on a Saturday afternoon shouting "Daily Telegraph! Get your Daily Telegraph! Britain out of Europe! Start the hospital closures."

There has been a seismic shift away from the extremism, greed and dishonesty of the Eighties and the displaced victims of that change, such as Aitken and Archer, are now scattered all around. This week in the epic story of the decline of a once-powerful political party, the last of its great symbolic villains finally became a ruined man when a jury gave their verdict on Neil Hamilton. But that was only 12 people who are on the electoral role. Just wait until the other 40 million give their verdict in 18 months' time. That will be the final scene of this momentous tragi-comic novel.

Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Jess Glynne is UK number 1

music

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor