term survival of this imposing landmark. What is more disturbing is that the Tory government is not a historic structure; it was erected as recently as 1981 and was said by its architect and first owner, Mrs Thatcher, to be designed to last 1,000 years - or at least to the end of the century.
At the time the new Tory government was greeted as a harbinger of things to come. Its imposing right wing was copied all over the world, its facade of expensive whitewash was widely admired. So-called Thatcherite designs started to appear everywhere. The architecture, a blend of neo-Victorian values and the most modern enterprise techniques, set the tone for much else built in Britain in the Eighties, but if the rumours are true, and the Tory government is beginning to buckle and crumble, then this bodes ill not only for the occupants but also for those living in similar circumstances.
'Well, yes, it looks very strong,' says modern historian Robert Dadot, 'but it's always easy to build a structure to look strong. If you look closely at some of the architectural features, you can spot the mistakes at close range. Look at the portillo, for instance, which is leaning too hard on the heseltine. That's bound to create trouble sooner or later, as one of them starts to give. There have been a couple of troublesome pattens over the years which should have been dealt with earlier - I believe one was sold to Hong Kong, but the other has only just been got rld of. That's endangered the fabric considerably.
'And look at the way they've tried to hold the heritage together here. What have they been using? Looks like gummer to me. Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh dear . . .'
The current occupant of the Tory government, a Mr John Major, who uses the place as his working base, does not seem disposed to admit that the problems are anything like as bad as has been maintained.
'I can see no problem whatsoever. Nothing needs to be changed at all. That is why I have just made major changes. But apart from that, nothing seems to be changed at all. I am quite happy with everything. The polls said that the Tory government would fall down in 1992 and what happened? It didn't. That proves everything, I think. The Tory government is as safe as houses. And I told the Belgian leader where to get off, didn't I? I think that proves that we are on the right track. This has been a recorded statement. Please hold on if you missed the beginning . . . I can see no problem whatsoever. Nothing needs to be changed at all . . .'
But experts say that the building methods used in the construction of the Tory government may be more faulty than has been so far realised, Robert Dadot again: 'Under the influence of Mrs Thatcher, it became more and more important to get the best economic deal, which was a rather grand way of saying, getting the cheapest deal.
'Now that we have time to look back at the materials used in the construction of the Tory government, we can see that again and again shoddy and substandard ingredients were used.
'Very little that has gone into the making of the Tory government has been previously tried and tested, and as you wander round the structure today, you can spot where things have gone wrong. There is a tebbit missing, which if kept might have strengthened things. This is a gaping hole where a mellor used to be. It looks as if a small brooke has run through here unchecked. And worst of all, the whole thing seems to be kept together by ad hoc quangos which have no staying power at all unless large sums of money are constantly spent on them.' If the present tenant, Mr Major, continues in his blithe pretence that nothing is wrong with the building, then we may soon be in for a catastrophe of devastating proportions.
'It could be a very expensive repair job indeed,' says Dadot. 'The builders I have talked to say that it would be almost impossible to piece back together - and they have hinted strongly that one or two skeletons might be hidden in the walls, dating from Thatcherite days. Does the name Pergau mean anything to you? Nor to me, but I have been told to keep it in mind.'
The collapse may be nearer than we think, according to a neighour, Mr Tony Blair, who lives in rented accommodation nearby.
He says that the noise of shifting fabric and makeshift repairs is sometimes quite disturbing - 'and, although this is not strictly relevant, the sound of fighting and arguing from the interior of Tory government can often go on late into the night. I sometimes wonder what they're up to in there. I just dread the prospect that one night I'll wake up and find the place has collapsed, and I'll have to go in and sort the mess out.'Reuse content