Parliament and Politics: Lawyer who is wedded to the politics of conviction: Patricia Wynn Davies talks to Roger Evans in her series of articles on the new MPs

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Indy Politics
'I AM actually extremely articulate,' is not the kind of assertion to issue from the mouth of the average new MP.

But this is the outspoken Roger Evans, the new member for Monmouth, once likened to a cross between Billy Bunter and Bertie Wooster and whose bouncing tweed-clad presence on the hustings during a fateful 1991 by- election caused the local population to scurry for cover.

The three-time election loser - he also fought Warley West in 1974 and Ynys Mon in 1987 - is no longer quite such a sketch writer's dream. The bespoke tweeds have been swapped for a pinstripe suit and the bellowing voice for the clipped tones of the barrister he used to be.

But, while the tubby, bespectacled 45-year-old right-winger has no intention of turning into a caricature of himself, the change of style seems to be cosmetic. Surveying his copious press cuttings he declares: 'People have not perceived the importance of Chris Patten's speech on the importance of conviction politics at the last party conference.

'What Mrs Thatcher did was to revolutionise the way things are put over. The old-fashioned 'wets' were wet in the real sense. They were weak . . . and woolly.'

Denouncing the 'old laid-back style', he is not given to putting things in a meek fashion. He still thinks unions are reckless and selfish and that socialism is robbery. 'I do not think it is right, just because I want to, to tax you at 80 per cent to spend it on my council estate tenants.'

He finishes off these declarations with an expectant smile. After spending his youth arguing with every conceivable form of left-winger ('I find the present Labour Party rather shallow in comparison'), his desire to become an MP stems from what he calls 'error in high places'. Much cleverer than some would allow, he is strong on the political stupidity of others, including those in his own party.

Widely presented in the pen portraits as an anti-EC Thatcherite, he none the less launches into an attack on the poll tax ('the most catastrophic blunder of the last Government') and on the former leader's stance on Maastricht: 'I think Mrs Thatcher is not being, frankly . . . either realistic or consistent. Free trade is not enough. The real revolution was the Single European Act. That, by introducing majority voting, was a calculated gamble and I do not credit her if she really is now saying that she didn't understand what was involved from the legal point of view.'

The Act was the only way of securing the level playing field, he insists. 'There would always have been one blocking vote against, for example, our ability to sell insurance policies.'

His other mission is beefed-up laws to curb the excesses of modern architecture. London edifices such as the Barbican development ('most disgraceful outrage that the City of London has ever perpetrated'), Lloyds ('if you want to build a factory build it on an industrial estate'), and Canary Wharf ('deplorable and blocks the view from historic Greenwich') are anathema. 'I do not think you can allow that to be regulated by the market.'

(Photograph omitted)

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