Two Persons sufficiently obscure to succeed Master Major

Master Watkins' Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs
Click to follow
The Independent Online
IN TIMES past, I have employ'd this Space for the Purpose of making Predictions for the coming Year: as that, May 1995 will see a very surprising Fitt of frosty Weather, which will last near twelve Days; or that, in July, there will be a Change i n the Ministry, which will remove Mr Secretary Hurd from his great Residence in St James's and return him to the Bosom of his Family in Oxon., where 'tis his Intention, or so I am reliably inform'd, to devote his Genius to the Composition of lewd Books, for theEntertainment of the Town and, I have no doubt, the Improvement of the entire human Race.

To which Predictions I might confidently add, without Offence to the Laws of Probability, that in the Month of October Master Tony Blair will unfailingly secure a great Triumph at the Assembly of the People's Party by the Sea-side, and that in November Mistress Gorman and her Rabble will be restor'd, if not to the Affections, then at least to the Allegiance, of the Tories; this Restoration marking a Year from the Date of their Expulsion from the Party (or, at the least, from the Faction in Westminster-hall , the Party as an Entity with corporate Personality before the Law-courts having no Existence, in Common Law or Equity).

All of which leads me to suppose, without undue Offence to Modesty, or to the proper Conduct of this Sheet, that, at this Moment, 'twould be a better Service to my Readers, and a more laudable Use of my own Abilities, to supply, instead of an Almanack, some free Thoughts upon the present State of Affairs. I have already had Occasion to mention Mistress Gorman and her Rabble: but, to speak the Truth, that Appellation is a mere Cant-word, greatly favour'd by those Authors that affect a Superiority of Manner, whom I shall refrain from mentioning with more Particularity at this Juncture, for fear of causing Offence, which it hath ever been my great Purpose to avoid.

Thus, for the sake of Illustration: Master Nicholas Budgen was a Jockey and studied the Law at Corpus Christi-coll. in Cambridge; Master R. Shepherd laid the Foundations for a whole Edifice of Shops in London, for the Sale of Goose-livers, Oil of Olives and other costly delicacies too numerous conveniently to list in a Paper of this Length; Sir Richard Body is, under the nom-de-plume of "Old Muckspreader'', the Author of Writings on agricultural Matters in the Sheet Private Eye; while, as for Mistress Gorman herself, she was as a young Woman a Student of Natural Philosophy, and to this Day preserves a vigour of Body and a Pertness of Manner thro' a regular Ingestion of chymical Substances.

As to the Prudence of this Course (which, I am told, is taken also by my Lady Thatcher, likewise in her Youth a Chymist) I leave it to the candid Reader to judge, from the Evidence of his own Senses, as laid down by Master Locke, his Essay.

But this, however, is not the Question at Issue, which is to make a true Comparison between Mistress Gorman, Master Budgen, & c., & c. with Mr Secretary Major, his Cabinet; for, upon a free Examination of the Particulars of the Case, it will be found (ifI am not greatly mistaken) that the Balance of Advantage by no means lies with those in Office.

I will begin with Master Richard Ryder, the Whip, who thrust Master Budgen and his Cronies into outer Darkness in a Fitt of the Pique. Now Master Ryder, although at some Times making claim to be a Farmer, and at other Times a Scribbler, had in Truth no other Occupation 'til he found Employment in Politicks; being in this Respect, to do him Justice, no different from some hundreds of others, on both sides of the present House, who, upon Inquiry, give their Occupations as "Adviser'', "Consult ant'', "Research-worker'', or what-have-you. With the Fall of my Lady Thatcher (or Mistress Thatcher as she was in those Days, anno. 1990), there happened the Rise of Master Ryder, as quick as a Squirrel up a Nut-tree.

This Tree of which I speak was surrounded by a dense Fog during those Days, so enabling Master Ryder, Master Norman Lamont and Master Major to emerge from its Shade into the Light of Day as bright and spotless as Page-boys at a Coronation.

Alas! Master Lamont was put out of Employment by his old Friend Master Major on the Recommendation of his other old Friend Master Ryder, and to this Day harbours Phantasies of a terrible Revenge, which he may yet take in November 1995, by putting up in the Westminster Election, with Consequences of the utmost Gravity to all concerned.

One of these is Mr Treasurer Kenneth Clarke, who, in the Eyes of the publick Prints, is up one Minute, down the next, like a Toy for Children at the End of a Piece of String. 'Tis all a matter of Taxation and, to use the Cant-phrase, the State of the Oeconomy, as to which, however, I will now put forward a Paradox, for the Edification of the Tory Party, viz., that the Party, or some of its Members (as an Example of whom I will name Master David Evans, that sits for Hatfield in Hertfordshire and is a lowFellow), desire the Price of Commodities to be steady, but the Price of Houses to be forever on the Rise, like a Comet in the Skyes; which, the Oeconomists tell us, is an Impossibility, like a Triangle with four Sides, or a Circle that is a Square.

Yet, the Tories say, if there is anyone that can prove the Impossible, or square the Circle, it is Master Michael Heseltine from Swansea in Glamorganshire, who, with two other Welsh-men (I mean my Lord Howe, from Aberavon in Glamorganshire, and Master Garel-Jones from Llangennech in Carmarthenshire), encompassed the Destruction of my Lady Thatcher. Like Master Clarke, Master Heseltine hath a Capacity to make the Shift from Adversity to Prosperity, and 'tis said that if the Tories are set to make any showing, Master Michael must be their Man, with Sparks coming out of his Hair (still abundant, although more gray than in former Times), a Wildness in his Eyes, and a Wand in his Hand, like a Wizard in a Pantomime.

But here is a curious Phenomenon, of the greatest Interest to all those who observe Politicks from a prudent distance, and also to those, I have no Doubt, who set up their Stalls nearer to Westminster: for, just as the most favour'd Horses of former Times, viz. my Lord Butler, Master Maudling, and my Lord Whitelaw, failed to win the Race, so it is thought that the same Fate will befall Master Heseltine and Master Clarke.

And so it is that the most ingeniose Calculations are being performed to discover the Identities of those Persons who, owing to their Obscurity and lack of Parts, will infallibly succeed Master Major. One of these is Mistress Gillian Shephard, that was aSchool-mistress in Suffolk, while another is Master Ian Lang, a Scotchman who hath thrown off his Doric Mode of Speech (if he ever had one) and commenced his Life as an Author of satirick Entertainments c. 1966, in common with the present Writer. God save the Queen.