I know that the onset of Christmas can affect the brain, but who could have been prepared for the revelation that you long to be loved like Mr Blobby? Certainly not the Cardiff businessmen, sitting there last Thursday, features respectfully composed. They thought they were getting another rehearsal of your well-known views on the profligacy of the National Health Service or starving future single mothers into celibacy. That's the kind of stuff we want from the man who was once called the 'Pol Pot of privatisation'.

But to hear that you want to be as popular as a bag of pink plastic is a bit of a letdown. Pol Pot would not have made that mistake, Mr Redwood. There's a man who never admitted a doubt about the merits of a clearly defined image. Frankly, I think it would have been wiser to devote some Yuletide leisure to reading one of those American books on how to kill your way to the top - practise snarling in the mirror in the morning, that kind of thing. Forget about being loved.

But it's difficult now that you've made your longing public. Once people know that you crave public affection they never forget it. They even get pleasure from withholding their warmer feeelings, unless they love you already - and I think we both know the truth about that, don't we? But it's probably too late for damage limitation. Too many people heard you to pretend you never said it or were misreported. So you may be committed to trying to be cuddly.

I'd like to be able to help, but it isn't going to be easy. I know that your party has tremendous faith in image consultants - look what they did for Mrs Thatcher. But in that case they were adding several coats of gloss to a pretty steely core. What you are asking them to do is stick fuzzy pink felt over what looks like a wreath of razor wire: it just won't be the kind of thing anyone wants to cuddle.

I think you may have to make a serious choice here. The reason people love Mr Blobby is not that he has an image consultant. It's because they think he's round and nice all the way through. You, on the other hand, have been described as 'half-human, half Vulcan' and your missing sense of humour is a matter of public record.

I fear a bit of work on the inner Redwood might be required, a little warming of the soul, some cultivation of empathy. I'm glad you cut that line you had in Who's Who where you listed your recreation as 'not reading the Guardian'. Mr Blobby just wouldn't say that. Once you're blobbier inside, the image consultants might have something to go on.

As to the humour, well, there is one thought you might consider. You could always confess that all your remarks about the NHS and your plan that neighbours should inform on families whose children misbehave were one huge joke. Nobody could call you Mr Spock after that, could they?

(Photograph omitted)

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