Norman Tebbit's transformation from a one-time semi-house-trained political polecat into a grizzled old national treasure is about to take a giant leap forward – with his debut as a celebrity chef.
One of Margaret Thatcher's favourite ministers is to launch an assault on the world of Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson with his own recipe book, describing how to cook a catalogue of beasts he has stalked and bagged during a lifetime as a keen game shooter.
The veteran peer, described as a "semi-house-trained polecat" by the former Labour leader Michael Foot, plans to offer at least a hundred of his own ideas on the best ways to prepare animals including pheasant, partridge and rabbits. "My mother said that if you never learn to cook, you never learn to eat," Lord Tebbit said last week. His mother, the daughter of a butcher in north-east London, also taught the young Norman to skin rabbits. He added: "To this day I can think of few things better than shooting a bird, plucking it, cooking it and then eating it."
Lord Tebbit also believes that the authorities could tackle Britain's gun culture by teaching boys how to shoot, it emerged last night. The hard-line stalwart of the Thatcher governments claims that "controlled, limited use of firearms" would reduce the obsession with guns that many believe has pushed youth gun crime beyond the control of the authorities.
But, despite his fundamentalist views on the pleasures of hunting, Lord Tebbit has not limited his ambition when it comes to the dishes in his repertoire. "My own favourite is partridge with pears and cheese," he said. "It's delicious."
In breaking into the cookbook market, he is following in the familial footsteps of a former cabinet colleague and Tory peer, Lord Lawson, whose daughter Nigella is one of the most famous celebrity chefs in the country.
Lord Tebbit, who is accustomed to making waves with his controversial views, said it was important to recognise that children needed to vent their aggression – and that shooting allowed them to do it in a positive way. "Kids should go out on shoots," he said. "It gives them a sense of excitement, and kids, especially young boys, have a need for a degree of violence. It is much better than playing a ghastly computer game."