Of Persons who aspire to replace Master Major

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The Independent Online
Twelve months have pass'd since I gave the Reader some candid Observations upon the present State of Affairs, in which Period of Time severall great Changes have come to pass, altho' not yet so substantial as utterly to alter the Chess-board of our Polity, viz., Master Redwood hath moved farther forward, and Mr Secretary M. Portillo farther back; while Master Jack Straw hath put up a Scheam to confine all Persons so ever that have not attain'd the Age of Maturity (to be fixed by the Magistrate, according to the Circumstances of the particular Case) to their Houses or Lodgings, on pain of Terms of Imprisonment, to be serv'd by their wretched Parents; which is a cause of great Concern to Mr Secretary Howard, who is in fear of being out-flank'd on the Battlefield of Politicks, not only by Master Straw but also by Master Redwood and, despite his various Set- backs, by Master Portillo as well.

Although Master Howard's Ancestors came over from Romania, or so I am inform'd, he was raised near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, that is in Wales, where his Mother and Father kept a Shop for selling Women's Cloaths ('twas called, if my Information is correct, Howard's Modes); which, no doubt, provides an adequate and satisfactory Explanation for the Occupation of his wife Sandra, that used to display such Cloaths upon her Person, being a Modell, so-call'd, and still causes Tory Gentlemen to say in their Clubs: "Michael, to be frank, I can take or leave, but I must say he has a delightfull Wife," which, to speak the Truth, is an old Tory Method of Conversing, to be employ'd in Discussions of, e.g., Mr Secretary R. Maudling, that is no longer with us, or Master E. Powell, that still is, viz.: "I sometimes have my doubts about Reggie (or Enoch, in the appropriate Case), but his Wife is absolutely charming."

Master Howard's grand Scheam or Stratagem is to assume the Leadership of the extream Faction in his own Party, which, as the intire Party is now extream, is not such an implausible Plan as might appear at first Sight. To this End, he hath consum'd more Pieces of Chicken than Mr Secretary Heseltine in his Prime (that was about ten years ago), and eaten more dishes of Fruit-sallet than my Lord Archer; tho', how much good this will do is a Matter of Opinion, for I will now tell you something of his Rivals. Master Portillo is the Son of a Professor from Spain, of the dissenting sort (I mean in his Politicks rather than in his Religion, of which I have not been informed), and attended Harrow Grammar School which nurtured Master Clive Anderson, Master Martin Walker the Scribbler, &c., &c., and afterwards went to Peterhouse-coll. in Cambridge, where his Guide, Mentor, and universall Authority was Master Maurice Cowling, the great Historian and a most sinister Fellow.

All went well enough for Master Portillo until anno. 1995, when Mr Secretary John Major put in his Resignation (from the Tories, I mean, not from his Office under Her Majesty the Queen) and threw himself upon the Mercy of his own Party; whereupon Master Portillo hung back, and profess'd the utmost Loyalty to Master Major in so momentous a Tryal: but rented a house in Westminster for use as a Campaign Head-quarters in the event of a second Ballot (of the Mathematicks of which I will say nothing farther at this Stage, for fear of causing Confusion in the Mind of the Reader) and, moreover, not content with this Transaction alone, laid down a System for giving and receiving Messages, according to the Principles established by Sir I. Newton, his Opticks, and Master Leibniz, his Fluxions; as a Consequence of which Master Portillo was seen as something of a Double-dealer or, as others would prefer to express the Matter, as someone that was willing to wound, but afraid to strike.

In that same Year he gave a great Oration to the Tories assembl'd by the sea-side at Bournemouth in Hants., or it may be in Dorset (for 'tis not at all clear in which County that Town is situated), in which he made himself out to be a great military Figure, beside whom the Duke of Marlborough himself was a mere Toy-soldier: which boast, coming as it did from a Spaniard who had never dug a Fortification, or heard a Shot fired in Anger, struck his Auditors as a great Impertinance: altho', to say the truth, those Tories who have some Experience of Warfare are now in short supply, or disappear'd utterly, as Examples of which I will give my Lords Whitelaw and Pym.

While Master Portillo was engaged in all this Foolishness, Master John Redwood had resign'd from the Cabinet and put up against Mr Secretary Major like an honest Man, which Position he hath continued to occupy throughout the past Year anno. 1996, being assisted in this Enterprise by Master Hywel Williams, a Welsh-man, that was a School-master at Rugby-school in Warwicks., was Master Redwood's Man of Business at the Welsh-office, and now devotes his Cunning to securing the Leadership of his Party for Master Redwood; in which great Scheam or Enterprise, it must be said, Master Redwood (or Master H. Williams) hath play'd a cool Game, like the Cricket at which Master Redwood plays on Saturdays in the Summer: with Balls being discharg'd straight at the Enemy, whether within or outside his own Party, without any disembling or Obliquity of Language, so that Master R. is perceiv'd as an honest Man, even tho' originating in the Planet Mars or some even more remote Region of the Universe.

Whether Master Portillo, on account of his Foolishness, hath put himself out of the Calculation intirely, is a Matter of some Dispute; likewise with Master Redwood, on account of his strange Manner; or with Master Howard on account of too many Considerations conveniently to list at this Juncture. So it is that other Tories dance across the Stage, or are dangled before our Eyes, like Marionette-dolls at an Entertainment for Children, viz., Mistress Gill. Shephard that hath fall'n back or, to say the least, shifted no farther forward; Mr Secretary Ian Lang, that is Master Major's favour'd Candidate and was once, in his hot Youth, a Writer for Sir David Frost, Master Bird, Master Fortune, their satirick Productions, along with the Author of the present Paper; not to mention Mr Secretary Malcolm Rifkind who, like Master Lang, is a Speaker in the refin'd Doric mode.

Although all these Persons could move in one Direction or the other, according to the Circumstances of the Moment, Mr Treasurer Ken. Clarke could perform no such Manoeuvres with any degree of Ease or Comfort. The Assumption is generally made, by Men of Sense and Experience, that after all these have lost their Places and are out of Employment, their Party will chuse as Leader someone of the Europhobick Tendency. But Politicks, besides being a rough old Trade, is also exceeding strange; and the Tories may just as well make do after their Exertions with Master Clarke.