No. 4: Schismism

ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties

Related Topics
"There is no contradiction between the views of my Right Honourable friend the Chancellor and those of his colleague, the Secretary of State for Employment, on Britain's future in Europe. It is just that one thinks Europe is a good thing and the other believes it is a disaster." This - almost - represents the view of the Prime Minister today. But never mind, says Mr M, we're really very united on most things. Only on the marginal question of Britain's future as a nation state are we hopelessly sundered.

Actually, of course, Mr Clarke and Mr Portillo loathe one another. Clarke likes cigars, jazz and brothel creepers. He is rumpled, cheerful and bluff. The Chancellor is an extrovert. Portillo is Jesuitical and committed. His hairstyle is a narcissistic confection which probably takes more attention each morning than the entire Clarke wardrobe in a year. Oh, and they do not agree about politics, either.

To point all this out is always to risk the appearance on television and radio of the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Marcus Fox. Sir Marcus, all vacuous northern breeziness, will remind everybody that the Conservative Party has, throughout history, been a "broad church".

But there are limits, surely. A broad church may, perhaps, be one in which both modern and ancient hymns are sung, or where the new version Bible and the King James version are both tolerated. What it is not is the place where evangelical Christian and devil-worshipper kneel down together. Archbishop Carey, a broad churchman if ever there was one, is not to be found straddling a goat with a sacrificial knife poised.

Tories who realise this are schismists. And schismism is the growing understanding that many of these rational Conservatives have that they hate each other, cannot live with each other and must divorce each other soon.

Indeed, were there no political parties and new ones were just being invented, they know that Ken, Sir Edward and Hezza would not be in the same one as the Michaels and the Normans. Their co-existence would be as likely as the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan ice-skating combo, Terry Venables opening the Amstrad casino or Andrew Neil and Peregrine Worsthorne having dinner at the Garrick club.

Whatever John Major says, increasing numbers of Tories are now schismists. It is just that, as with everything else, they cannot agree on who should leave home. Somebody needs to follow the example of that professional schismist, Lord Owen, and walk out, slamming the door. Those who advocate that they should do so are, of course, schismismists.

React Now

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

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home