Master Blair's Ruse will yet gull the Publick

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The Independent Online

In Seasons pass'd, at this time of the Year, it hath been my Practice to offer to the Reader some free Thoughts upon the present state of Affairs on the last Sunday in December rather than on the first in January; the reason being, that the Editors of our great News-papers, to say nothing of their attendant Executives (so- call'd), will insist, as they term the Matter, on Getting in First; with the Consequence that Books are commonly apprais'd in the Sheets (e.g., The Sunday Times) before they are freely available at the Booksellers in Fleet-street and Paternoster-row near St Paul's for Purchase by the common Reader up from the Country, or, for that matter, resident in the great Metropolis; while it hath long been the case that Publications intended for the Ladies arrive a Season too soon, so that in the Depths of Winter, when Icicles hang by the Wall, they proffer sage Counsel on the correct Garb in the Month of May.

However, I am bound to say, to avoid giving Offence to Truth, that, had I not been prevented by Circumstances beyond my Controul (to employ the cant Phrase), I should have followed my usual habits and given my Opinions on the Condition of Politicks last week rather than this: but this is by the way. For the great Question is exactly the same now as it was then, viz., whether Master Anthony Blair will remain leader of his Faction and, as a Consequence of this, the Tenant of No. 10 Downing-street (a most inconvenient Residence for a Gentleman to occupy, in my own Opinion) at the end of the Year. This is held to depend on the Conclusions at which my Lord Hutton will arrive in his great Report that is to be published later in this Month.

I will now tell you something more of his Lordship. He is from Belfast in the Irish Plantations and was at Shrewsbury-school which nurtured Masters Michael Heseltine, Paul Foot, Christopher Booker and Richard Ingrams, not to mention Sir I. Newton, his Opticks. From there he remov'd to Balliol-coll. in Oxford where he studied the Law before returning to his native Soil across the Water, of which Province he became Lord Chief Justice before crossing the Irish Sea yet again to adjudicate upon matters of the Law in Westminster-hall.

The Wisdom of the Wise is that my Lord Hutton will, as the Phrase goes, Let Master Blair Off Lightly: but, however this may be, Master Blair hath his Answer at the ready, which is that, whatever the rights and wrongs may be concerning the Death by his own Hand of Dr David Kelly, or the Conflict in Mesopotamia which led to his Demise, 'tis nevertheless Time to Move On. These Words have already been utter'd, in this precise Form, by Master Blair himself and by severall of his Acolytes whom it would be taedious to list in a Paper of this length.

As the most cursory Examination will unfailingly demonstrate, this is an Argument or, as some would describe it, an Excuse which is destructive of all Moralls among private Persons and all good Government in civill Society. For suppose a Criminal should appear before the Magistrate (it may be my Lord Hutton himself in his previous Employment) charged with the most horrible Murthers and other Offences of a more minor Character too numerous to relate. And suppose farther that he makes a full Confession of his Crimes and Misdemeanours to the learned Judge; adding in the next Breath that 'tis nevertheless Time to Move On and that consequently he should be released into the World, where he might perpetrate all kinds of additional Mischiefs. In similar Circumstances my Lord Hutton would, we may be sure, dismiss such a Plea as idle and without Merit of any kind and sentence the Miscreant with an additional Severity on account of his gross Impertinency to the Court.

All the Indications are, however, that such is the short memory of the Publick, and so little its Capacity for settled Thought, like Moths flying in the Twilight, that Master Blair, his Ruse, will gull the Populace, or a good Proportion.

Master Blair hath another Advantage in his Scheam, viz., that Master Michael Howard, that is at the head of the Tory Faction, hath his own Interest in forgetting the Adventure in Mesopotamia and related Matters, which ariseth in this Fashion: for Master Howard's Predecessor in Office, Master Iain Duncan Smith, was as dedicated to the Adventure as Master Blair himself, if not more so, and as a result bequeathed to Master Howard an Estate burthened by Debts or, as the Roman lawyers of old would express it, a damnosa hereditas.

I will now tell you something more of Master Howard. He is of Transylvanian descent and was raised up at Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, where his Father and Mother kept an Emporium known as Howard's Modes, for the sale of Apparel for Ladies. He was schooled at the Llanelli-grammar school, which was the Place of Education of my Lord Elwyn-Jones, that held the Great Seal in the Days of Harold Wilson; and afterwards at Peterhouse in Cambridge, where, however, so far as my Inquiries have been able to establish, he formed no connexion with Master Maurice Cowling and other sinister Characters of the Tory Persuasion that hang loose upon the College in question, like Flies on the Rim of a Jam-pot.

In former Times, e.g., of Master Harold Macmillan or even of my Lady Thatcher, Master Howard would have pass'd for a good enough Minister in a lowly Position: but such is the Corruption of the Times that he appeareth a veritable Giant among Pygmies. And, indeed, to say the truth, Master Blair is now confronted for the first Time by an Opponent of a modest Competency: for, consider, from anno. 1994 'til 1997 he had Master John Major for an Adversary; from anno. 1997 to 2001 'twas Master William Hague; while from that date the Position was occupied by Master Duncan Smith, of whom the least said the better. So it is no wonder, when these Considerations are taken into account, that Master Howard shines out, altho' the Illumination he provides is more like the Light caused by naturall Gases from a Bog.

This Light is but a flickering Candle when compared to the Rays emanating from Master Blair's neighbour in Downing-street, Master Gordon Brown. This is said to be the Year in which Master Brown will make his Bid for the Leadership (I use the Language in common Employment) and shift over to No. 10. It is true that in the People's Party there is an Engine for the Removal of a first Minister, but a Rebellion by other Ministers would serve the same Purpose with an equal Facility and a greater Speed. And yet, of such a great Event I see no Sign at the moment. God save the Queen.