I’m not going to blow my own trumpet and claim my last post was 100% accurate, but it was close enough to allow me a little parp on my predictive cornet. Parp.
So what happened? Cuddly Ken was shifted/neutered into one of those quasi-legislative positions that give no true power but let the government tap into the gravitas and national-treasureness. It’s a win-win for CallMeDave: lurch to the right but keep the non-toxic side of Toryism in the spotlight. Ken issued a statement that had the weary resignation of failed actor Uncle Monty in Withnail and I :
It is the most shattering experience when you awake and quite reasonable says to yourself: I will never play The Dane.
So off he shambles, into a holding-pen for the Lords, his one-nation, liberal Conservatism sliding the same way as serve-and-volley tennis; insightful Channel 4 documentaries and the appeal of Premiership football. The Tories are now little more than a less-caffeinated Tea Party, UKIP lite, Ayn Rand with a smiley face. Cameron has realised the only way to have a hope in 2015 is to jack in all attempts at coalition and to serve up red-meat Conservatism, trying to re-engage the core with an agenda of anti-green opinions, private-sector worship and a return to flog ’em, hang ’em Justice policies.
This leaves Anna Soubry in a quandary, one might think. Yes, the left of the party is now deeply unfashionable. Those who helped detoxify he party post 2005 are now effectively redundant until the months running up to the next election. Soubz, however, was elevated; not with any degree of acceleration, but in the right direction. She’s become a PUSS, a junior role that still has significant influence.
And she’s not been slow to get out there: announcing in The Times her support for assisted suicide. It created a big splash; I read an online headline on Saturday morning espousing ‘ANNA SOUBRY: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KILL YOURSELF’ and suffered an unnerving jolt of paranoia.
To have got the exposure on this, Anna would have required a nod from Number 10. It’s an emotive issue with legislative potential that has been thrown out to the media and public to debate openly. It’s exactly why Junior ministers exist: to suggest policy without making it seem like a government line. If Anna’s new boss,( incredibly it’s Jeremy Hunt; I give him six months) was to espouse such an opinion it’d be seen as a virtual policy announcement , Cabinet intent. Get a junior to do it: stick your toes in the water rather than leap in fully.
Soubz has a position now that is dual-purpose; her loyalty to Cameron and a 2015 majority are retained through elevation and more profile-boosting media spots, while the Health Secretary (Jeremy Hunt!! Yes! Really!) can call on her to moot stuff that’d he’s not ready to commit to.
I’m with her on the assisted suicide issue: it’s an ethical, rather than political issue and friends seem rougly divided 50/50 on it. Let the debate begin, though I’m sure it’s actually been a pertinent topic since the Tony Nicklinson case reached it’s tragic conclusions.
Three years as an Aunt Sally to gain a safe seat? It’s a good deal for Anna. And if Hunt really messes up Health- and as a self-professed fan of Homeopathy one can’t feel his lack of judgement will be his undoing – who is in the wings waiting for the understudy call-up?
Anna in charge of Health. Makes registering with BUPA seem like a very good idea….