Election '97: Goldsmith tells Tories the show will go on
Clare Garner attends the Referendum Party's first and last pre- election press conference
Wednesday 30 April 1997
"We're going to the left," came the reply. But after a moment's reflection, the chauffeur corrected himself: "No, we're going to the right."
The revised route was to Sir James's satisfaction. "Oh, good," he said, smiling at the cameras.
The Conservatives were, after all, "dead" and he was, indeed, heading for the right.
Speaking at a "special" - that is, his first and last - press conference at a London hotel, Sir James declared that it was not the Referendum Party that had killed off the Tories. Rather, the Conservatives had committed suicide.
"The policies they've adopted fly in the face of democracy," he said. "That was bound to kill them."
Earlier in the day, Sir James had learned of a death in his own party. David Crabtree, who was standing for the Referendum Party in Pudsey, in Leeds, announced he was backing the Tory candidate, Peter Bone, because of his Euroscepticism.
Clearly irritated by Mr Crabtree's last minute decision, Sir James said: "I think he made a mistake because I think that no matter who wins in Pudsey the Conservative Party will not win and that the key thing in terms of the future is a referendum."
He added mischeviously: "The people of Pudsey can still vote Referendum - and who knows, Mr Crabtree might end up a member of parliament. Look, 230,000 people have joined us from other parties. When one leaves us, it's fair balance."
Even if the Referendum Party does not secure a single seat on Thursday, the show will go on, said Sir James. "We will be a conduit for mobilisation as we have been in the past few months ... I do believe that we need to continue as a movement so that if, in secret as in the past, politicians seek to give up our sovereignty, we will be there."
But Sir James did not have it all his own way. He was accused of introducing an "entirely new tone into British politics."
"I have attended your rallies," shouted a lone voice, "And the loudest cheer was given to the man at Alexandra Palace who suggested that electrodes should be screwed to the sexual organs of Sir Edward Heath."
"I see you're extremely unfamiliar with British politics," replied Sir James, patronisingly. "We draw from all the parties ... ". Mr Roth butted in: "Has anybody suggested electrodes?". "Shut up a second," snapped Sir James. "I suggest you go back to Austria and deal with your own rightwing problems."
Lord McAlpine made his learned contribution to the debate: "It was a howl of pain, not a howl of delight."
In response to comments earlier in the day by Kenneth Clarke, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the influence of millionaires in this election campaign had been over the top, Lord McAlpine's wit ran wild: "I assume he's referring to Michael Heseltine."
Sir James struck a more serious note. "One of the problems of the whole construction of Europe has been the massive propaganda campaign used by Euro federalists out of tax payers' money." His pounds 20m was peanuts in comparison with the pounds 220m - or more like pounds 500m - ploughed in from "the other side".
He said he didn't have "the slightest idea" how many people were going to vote for the Referendum Party, although he took the opportunity to share "a little bit of news" that reached him earlier in the day.
"I'm not suggesting that this is representative," he began apologetically. "Labour 36 per cent - leading," he began. "In number two position, the Referendum Party with 23 per cent. Conservatives 21 per cent. Lib Dems 11 per cent. Don't knows 9 per cent."
He was, in fact, quoting the results of the latest Labour Party canvassing returns in Gosport, Hampshire, not the national picture.
All the same, it was satisfying. "Now if the Labour Party is right," said a delighted Sir James, "I strongly recommend the Conservative Party candidate withdraw."
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Zayn Malik gives first interview since quitting One Direction: 'I've never felt more in control of my life'
Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...