The agreeable world of Wallace Arnold: A personal proclamation of national significance

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The Independent Online
AN IMPORTANT question, to kick off what I'm sure our old friend posterity will judge a highly important article. How often is it given to a columnist such as my own good self to pen a column of far-reaching significance? Once in a lifetime? Twice? Few columnists could claim any higher figure; some rather less.

Let us judge 'em by their track records. That genial hothead Paul Johnson will be remembered wheresoever old copies of the New Statesman continue to be read for his article 'Down This Road I Shall No Longer Tread, With Or Without Gumboots' (1977) in which he first alerted the world to his change of mind over voting for the Socialists. Since then, he has written many a memorable piece, though the only one that stays in the mind is 'A Spot of Drizzle Never Hurt Anyone - Out You Go' (1991) in which he argued in favour of the relative dampness of February.

Old Rees-Mogg, ever a dab hand with the old quill (though perhaps less adept with the crystal ball]]]) also scores a commendable two. The first of his pieces that springs to mind is his 'Who Breaks A Butterfly Upon a Wheel' editorial in the Times (1968) in which he argued, as far as memory will serve, that if Miss (Msss]) Marianne Faithfull were to leap between his sheets, he certainly wouldn't kick her out. A fair point, and well express'd, earning William his place in the history books. His second seminal article, 'Why Mrs Thatcher Will Have to Go, and Peter Walker Will Lead The Tories' (1978), is also worthy of mention, as is his equally masterly 'America Stands Ready for President Dukakis' (1988).

My old friend and quiffing partner Terry Worsthorne has written many a splendid (not to mention provocative]]) piece, none more important, I would hazard, than the seminal 'The Queen Must Don Mrs Bowler' (1968) in which he argued - with characteristic pluck] - that, as part of the on-going 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign, Her Majesty must wear a bowler hat for the state opening of Parliament, so signalling her support for British business.

And so to my old chum and fellow pen-pusher Bernard Levin, whose passionately argued piece, 'Why I Shall Never Ever Enjoy Masticating on La Belle Fromage While Listening to 'Der Rosenkavalier' Down a Gold Mine in South Africa' (1976) did so much to influence the political situation in that oft-troubled and turbulent land. This monumental polemic will most surely enter the history books, alongside his celebrated paean to Cadbury's Creme Eggs at Glyndebourne (1986), or was it Truffles at Salisbury?

Noble scriveners all, but I wonder if any of their albeit highly enjoyable pieces will ever possess quite the historic importance of the article I am in the process of penning today? Only once or twice in the lifetime of even the most celebrated columnist is it vouchsafed to him to make a personal proclamation of both national and international significance. One must ponder deep and hard, one must live through many a long, dark night of the proverbial soul, one must think, think and think perchance again, before inflicting such a deep trauma upon one's devoted readers. Yet inflict such a trauma I must. For too long have I suffered in silence. Along this rocky road I shall no longer plough my hoe. Up this rocky mountain I shall no longer cast my net. Down this weary glen I shall no longer pluck my brow.

I refer, of course, to my continued allegiance to Mr John Major's Conservative and Unionist Party. On the right, I see a party in tatters, a Cabinet in shreds, a Leader distinguished only by vacillation, the rank-and-file, tears rolling down their ruddy cheeks, begging for some release from their torment. And on the left, what do I see? I see a party led by a well-scrubbed, well-spoken, public-school boy. I see a young man who is not frightened to grasp the harsh economic nettle and say, 'Lower Taxes for the Better Off'. I see a fledging statesman of world significance, dedicated to the preservation of law and order, to securing an end to state intervention, and to ensuring that our privatised industries prosper in an atmosphere of competition and enterprise. And it is to Mr Tony Blair that I hereby pledge my troth. He is the Future, and I, Wallace Arnold, award-winning columnist and distinguished man of letters, am only too happy to act as his handmaiden. I will return to this subject next week, but for now an historic article hath been writ, and shall not be unwritten.