Letter: Politics without George Walden

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The Independent Online
Sir: I find it sad that someone who is as clever as George Walden MP believes he is should have such a patchy understanding of the nature of the political process by which, over time, yesterday's bold ideas become tomorrow's accepted policies.

He admits to Donald Macintyre ("Out of the house of illusions", 25 July) a "relative lack of practical political skill". To be an effective politician, to stick by your case, to tell the truth as you see it, in season and out, to persuade others of it, to move it forward step by step, as opportunity allows, does indeed require skill. But it also requires other qualities as well, such as courage and persistence.

In the 12 years or so that he has been in the House of Commons, Mr Walden has floated a number of interesting ideas, mostly very perceptive, many relevant to our national condition and some quite uncomfortable, but all the better, it seems to me, for this last characteristic. What he has failed to do is to get stuck in, to persist.

His decision now to fold his tent and walk away at precisely the moment when opinion is moving towards him should not be seen as a valid verdict on our democratic system by a disillusioned participant, but rather as a measure of his own failure fully to engage himself in it, and of his capacity for melancholy, pessimism and misjudgement.

Yours sincerely,

Humphry Crum Ewing


25 July