Sunday 1 January 2006
Master Alan Watkins' Almanack: Master Cameron may decide his Interest is best serv'd if Master Blair stays put
The good Scotch Knight is reluctant to use his great Speed
Written for the reformation of Manners, the advancement of Religion, and the universall improvement of the human Race.
Twelve Months have pass'd since I gave my Readers the Benefit of my free Thoughts upon the present State of Affairs, together with my Predictions for the Year 2005, viz., that in the Month of May the Men in Power would win an Election, and that June would see a very surprising Fitt of frosty Weather which would last 12 days; in which Circumstances 'tis only right to give my Predictions for 2006, along with my Reflections upon great Events.
Of these, the Triumph or, as some would see it, the Disappointment or, as others again would view the Matter, the Disaster of Master A. Blair in May is now quite forgot in polite Society or, as far as that goes, in the lowest of Ale-houses; the universall Assumption being, that there is another Election just round the Corner or, at any rate, that there is some great Change in the Air, of which it is too early to speak with any Precision at this Juncture.
On being press'd for farther and better Particulars, Men of Business, who are well practised in these Matters, will put their Fingers to their Noses (in the manner of Mr Secretary Callaghan, that has gone to a better Place) and give their candid Opinion that Politicks have chang'd and that Times are more exciting than for many Years pass'd; for Evidence of which, citing Master David Cameron, his Appointment, to universall Acclamation, to lead the Tories.
I will now tell you something more of Master Cameron. His Mother, a blameless Lady, was sister to the father of Sir F. Mount, the great Authour. He himself was at Eton-coll. in Bucks and at Brasenose-coll. in Oxford; which, to say the truth, is the Cause of greater Excitement in Fleet-street, Westminster and adjoining Areas of the Metropolis than it is in other Parts of the Kingdom, where the good People have long ceas'd bothering their Heads with Schools, Colls. and the like, preferring instead to give such Attention as they can spare from their other Amusements to Players, Ballad-singers, &c., &c.
But in Westminster-hall the Story is different: For there the intire Question is not what Master Cameron intends to do for himself, but what Effect he is likely to have on other People. Of these others, one Example is Master Charles Kennedy, that is at the head of the Liberal-Democrat Faction, so-call'd, although for how much longer is a matter for Speculation.
And yet, the curious Thing is this: For two intire Decades after Hitler's Warre, the Faction had fewer Members attending the Commons-house than could be counted upon the Fingers of two Hands; whereas under Master Kennedy there are 62 of 'em, of a great Variety of Shapes and Sizes. Of a most elegant Shape, with Haberdashery to match, is Sir Menzies Campbell, another Scotchman, that was once described with truth as the Fastest White Man in the World.
But the good Scotch Knight is reluctant to use his great Speed to overtake Master Kennedy; or, rather, to employ an Analogy better suited to the present Occasion, he is like one of the Princes or other noble Persons in Master Shakespeare, his Plays, not knowing where to turn for the best to come about; not least the best for himself. And on that Note we may take our Leave of Master Kennedy, Sir Menzies and others of their Faction, and turn our Attention to Matters of greater Concern to the Common-wealth.
I mean, of course, Mr Treasurer Gordon Brown, his Future in the Ministry. Master Blair hath given his solemn Word that he will serve out what in the cant Phrase is called a full Term, which can only mean the whole Period between one Election and the next, viz., a Spell, usually, of four and, sometimes, of five Years, unless there are exceptional Circumstances, e.g., a great Warre, or the loss of a Majority, which need not detain us any farther at this point; but, at the same time, Master Blair hath made a Promise, of an equal degree of Solemnity, that at some Date of his own choosing he will hand the Seals of Office and the Wand of Power to Master Brown.
Now 'tis obvious, even to a childish mind, that both Pledges cannot possibly be true: For if Master Blair serves a full Term, he cannot hand over to Master Brown; whereas if he hands over to Master Brown, he cannot serve a full Term.
There is, to be sure, one Set of Circumstances which could be held to satisfy both Tests and which would come about if Master Blair surrender'd the Seals a few weeks before the Election, as happen'd anno. 1955, when Master Churchill gave way to Master Eden within weeks of the Poll; although whether such a transference would be regarded by Master Brown as a fair Exchange must be Matter for Speculation, to say the least.
According to the publick Prints, Blair's Legacy, so-call'd, is now the supreme Consideration, over-riding all others. If this be so, Master Brown may be in waiting till they both of 'em have long white Beards, as may turn out to be the case, with Master Cameron snug in Downing-street. At the same time Master Blair, although not in the strict sense a party man, will take into account the Effect of his Remaining in Employment on Master Cameron, his Prospects; while Master Cameron, for his part, will perform precisely the same Calculation, altho' from a different Point of View.
Such is human Nature that Master Blair will, we may be reasonably confident, come to the sober and unbiased Conclusion that, to make Life as uncomfortable as possible for Master Cameron, his continuation in Office is of the highest importance to the Polity. He will, we may be sure, remind his Auditors that he has, in the Phrase of the Day, seen off four Tories already, viz., Masters Major, Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard, and that he sees no Reason why he should not dispose likewise of a fifth in due Course.
As for Master Cameron, he may arrive at the same Conclusion for the opposite Reason, to the Effect that his Interest may best be serv'd if Mr Blair stays where he is. But, to speak the truth, it is of the utmost insignificance what Master Cameron concludes; for the Decision on whether to stay or to go will not be made by him but by Master Blair.
And so Master Brown may join my Lords Butler, Healey and Heseltine; and there will be much Wailing and Lamentation among the Women-folk of The Guardian Newspaper. God Save the Queen.
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