2013 - the year in review: Politics as usual, though we lost Margaret Thatcher and gained Adam Afriyie
At Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, Osborne shed a tear, as if a human being lurked below that calculating exterior
This should have been the year when we lost Margaret Thatcher but gained Adam Afriyie. We lost the Baroness in April, laid to rest at a dignified funeral during which George Osborne was seen to shed a tear, as if a human being lurked somewhere below that calculating exterior.
There were also parliamentary tributes, preceded by a stern warning to Labour MPs from the Daily Telegraph commentator, Dan Hodges, to show respect for the recently dead and avoid “infantile” attacks. One Labour MP ignored him and laid into Thatcher’s “heinous” record. That was Glenda Jackson, Dan Hodges’s mother.
A propos of Adam Afriyie, a rumour circulated in spring that a great new leader was emerging to supplant David Cameron after the 2015 election. Mr Afriyie modestly confined himself to saying that he was working with a “large group” of Tory MPs on plans for a “Conservative Britain”. In October, Mr Afriyie decided to show his hand by forcing a vote to commit the Government to holding a referendum before 2015 on whether to stay in or leave the EU. It fell by 249 votes to 15. Mr Cameron’s leadership survived.
In another section of the anti-EU movement, Ukip and its leader Nigel Farage stumbled their way through a sequence of disasters without actually falling flat on their faces. They did well in the May local elections, but the only part of their conference anyone remembers is Godfrey Bloom telling a crowd of women they were sluts and whacking Channel 4’s Michael Crick around the head with a party brochure.
It cannot be said that any of the main parties had an outstanding year. Arguably, in January the Conservatives lost their best chance of winning the next election outright when their Lib Dem allies refused to go along with their plan to redraw constituency boundaries. Yet David Cameron and George Osborne still look a more credible pair than Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The Lib Dems, meanwhile, managed to hold Eastleigh despite the downfall of Chris Huhne; but their poll ratings remain grim.
But 2013’s smartest political operators may have been the west country badgers. Five thousand were doomed to die in Somerset and Gloucestershire, many eluded the marksmen, so the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson revised the figures downwards and allowed a three-week extension to the campaign. Mr Paterson was asked if he was moving the goalposts. No, he replied, “the badgers moved the goalposts.”
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
California teacher appears to have hanged herself in her classroom
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Exciting new position available at an independ...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will h...
£7800 - £13455 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A career opportunity has become ...