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

Operations Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently recruiting for an Operati...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, Security Cleared

£100 - £110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Ham...

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Developer- CSS, HMTL, Bootstrap

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Prime Minister David Cameron walks on stage to speak at The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference on November 4, 2013  

Does Cameron really believe in 'British Values'?

Temi Ogunye
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz