Simon Carr: We shouldn't be surprised, he thinks he's untouchable


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If it can be said Tory high command is "out of touch" – it's not quite right to say that about Oliver Letwin.

The son of a professor and a PhD, the product of Eton and Trinity, the intimate of Camerons and Rothschilds – it's more accurate to say he's out of reach.

The picture of him wandering around St James' Park shedding confidential documents like a scholar gypsy is entirely characteristic. He is beyond the rules that govern the less-favoured.

Amiable? Apparently. Affable? Certainly. Elaborately courteous? Frequently. Seething with impatience at the stupidity of those he has to deal with? Almost certainly.

These three sketchy examples give a glimpse of a hauteur he usually conceals. Years ago he gave me a tutorial in the wickedness of Gordon Brown. We sat in the Commons and he took me through the last Tory Red Book and Gordon's version, showing how all the headings had been changed so that like could not be compared with like. It was a dashing performance full of drama and a stabbing forefinger – very much like a brilliant conductor.

Second: at a Tory conference session to gain money-saving ideas. Someone suggested scrapping the subsidy on low energy lightbulbs and reducing the VAT on them. He said, in a voice exasperated mothers use, "Oh God, this sort of suggestion drives me mad. People are always making them!"

Third: that big idea for the Tory election campaign. David Cameron uttered "Big Society" and ever since people have wondered what it means. If only the electorate hadn't been so thick, he might excuse himself by saying, they'd have voted the Tories a majority. It was the other-worldliness of Letwin that delivered the Coalition.