Tory Party Conference Sketch: At conference, even Thatcher’s ghost gets a standing ovation
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Sunday 29 September 2013
Daringly, the Conservative conference started with its inspirational highlight, Thatcher: the movie – a nostalgia vehicle which brought the audience to their feet in what may prove the one unequivocally enthusiastic standing ovation of the week. The iconic images included Mrs T be-goggled and all in white in the turret of a Challenger tank: a 20th century Boadicea as played by Isadora Duncan. Or the lady at her shimmering sexiest at a 1976 meeting in Finchley: “I stand before you in my red star chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved, the iron lady of the western world.” By this point you had begun to fear for the pulse rate of older party representatives.
A supporting cast of Cabinet contemporaries and “Thatcher’s children” – including David Cameron and George Osborne – eulogised her, the latter somewhat hyperbolically. “She was really the first post-war Prime Minister to say Britain did have a strong role in the world and we’re going to assert it.” OK, the Chancellor was only born in 1971, but what about Attlee, post-1951 Churchill, Macmillan, and – however disastrously – Eden?
Still, no one does retro better than the Tories and after the tribute, the party chairman Grant Shapps valiantly tried to clamber aboard her bandwagon. “My friends, I know you’ll agree with me... There will only ever be one Margaret Thatcher.” They did. Though some may secretly hope for great things from Theresa May – whose mention by Shapps drew less muted applause than some others he name-checked. Like Shapps’s co-chair Lord Feldman. Unsurprisingly, since the audience was composed of the very same “swivel-eyed loons” Feldman was obliged to deny having called them in May.
Shapps has shaken off the mini-incubus of having once gone by the name of Michael Green. He gave an account of how “inspired” by Thatcher, he had started a printing business in 1980. He would “never forget” those early days “going to the cinema, only to find … I’d missed the best bits because I had been so deep in thought worrying about the cash flow”. It’s OK, Grant, we can help. Richard Gere does carry off Debra Winger at the end of An Officer and a Gentleman!
Shapps said the business had benefited from Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme. But in his Evening Standard interview on Friday, he said it was her Loan Guarantee Scheme. Maybe he got both. Or maybe Shapps got one – and Michael Green the other.
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Sussex couple die in suspected Christmas Day 'suicide pact'
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...