I have been loyal to absolutely everyone in my time

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

Share
Related Topics
Loyalty. That's a word of which one hears precious little. Loyalty to friends. Loyalty to colleagues. Loyalty to those for whom one works.

But some of us can still claim Loyalty as our middle name. As a lifelong Conservative, loyalty flows through my veins. In the first half of the Seventies (dread decade!) my loyalty was to our leader, Mr (now Sir!!!) Edward Heath. On the doorstep, I took pains to applaud his robust good humour and good sense. In the House, I rallied around him, loyal as ever, even when he was subsumed by his innate peevishness and crass incompetence - failings I was careful to criticise on a strictly off-the-record basis at the time.

In 1975 I loyally switched my allegiance to Margaret Thatcher. This steadfast loyalty meant that my dealings with poor old Ted were henceforth glances in Westminster corridors and loyal transactions with political editors, informing them of interesting new developments in Ted's somewhat, shall we say, hazy private life.

The 1990-91 period proved a testing time for my loyalty, but I passed with flying colours. My first loyalty continued to be to Margaret, but secretly I wondered whether her ideas might best be implemented by Michael Heseltine, to whom I remained loyal until it became clear that Douglas Hurd was in with a chance.

But let me make it clear how absolutely delighted I was when John Major became leader. Needless to say, I remained loyal to the poor, over-promoted fellow right up to just before the very end, when I pledged my loyalty first to Michael Howard, then to John Redwood, then to Ken Clarke and finally to the candidate who seemed to me then and still seems to me now to be head and shoulders above the rest, namely the young and dynamic William Hague.

But there are times when, in the interests of loyalty, a little - what might one call it? - disloyalty is required. Every now and then, it is sadly necessary, so that democracy may be served, to - how shall I put it? - plant the seed of doubt and stand back and watch it grow. My own preferred seed is what one might best term the "private life" (dread phrase!) of the individual. Let me explain.

Over the past few years, you will have heard on the hush-hush that Senior Conservative A, though married, is in fact a "confirmed bachelor", or that Senior Conservative B, though most publicly engaged, is in fact "rather more attracted to those of his own gender". These little acorns have now grown into the most beautiful oaks, and I have long basked in their shade. And who, may one ask, planted them? Step forward, Wallace Arnold!

I first demonstrated my loyalty to the Conservative Party way back in the early 1960s. Immensely likeable though he was, poor old Alec Home continued to show up poorly in the opinion polls. To steady the ship, I treated a senior political correspondent to a slap-up meal at Simpsons. Just before the pud arrived (an excellent sherry trifle, as I remember it), I leant across the table and whispered: "Poor old Alec - frankly, he never got over that little fling with Tom Driberg, poor love. But don't tell anyone!" Result? Within the space of six months, Alec had been pushed over to the Foreign Office and Ted had taken up the reins at Number 10!

Thanks to the efforts of yours truly, rumours concerning Alec's love- life continued to circulate throughout his time in office. Other rumours soon abounded: Alec and Kenneth Williams spotted on holiday with Joe Orton in Tangiers, Alec necking with Ronnie Kray at the Sophisticats Nightclub, Alec parading around the Ladies Enclosure at Ascot clad in a nylon one- piece by Christian Dior.

And when Ted's own dip in popularity came in '74, my loyalty to the Party moved once again to the fore. Had he not been seen late one night cavorting with a member of The Young Generation dance troupe, complete with silks and ruffles, on Hampstead Heath? Was there not a hint of mauve in his shirts? And was not his friendship with Reginald Maudling perhaps a little too touchy-feely?

And so to 1997. It was while campaigning for Michael Howard that the unmarried status of young William Hague was first brought to my attention. A word here and there, and William's little-known career as a lap-dancer at Legends discotheque became common currency, not to mention his close friendship with Mr Humphries from TV's Are You Being Served?

Alas and alack, when the time came to remove my loyalty from Howard and switch it to Hague, I found these little rumours of mine hard to erase. We can only hope that his forthcoming marriage to Ffion (dread name!) does the trick, or we shall all be scuttled, and our loyalty may be tested to breaking point.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

At last Cuba is free to become more like the glorious US of A!

Mark Steel
Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Sam Seaborne (Rob Lowe) in The West Wing  

You don't need to read Aaron Sorkin's leaked emails to realise he's a sexist — just watch The West Wing

Tom Mendelsohn
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum