Musings on political opposition and politics in general from a former Conservative Party adviser, now Director of the Centre for Opposition Studies and Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Greenwich Council.
You can now read an abridged version of my research in an article for Conservative Home here. Someone has been quick to point out an error regarding Ronald Reagan, which I will take note of when I write up my thesis!
Thatcher and Cameron - in Government's Waiting Room
Well, it's not every day you wake up with the party you organised last night splashed across the papers. But that is the ego-pleasing situation I found myself in today. As well as the above story in the Express, photographs of David Cameron with Lady Thatcher appeared in the Telegraph, the Mirror and the London Evening Standard today.
So what was this great event? As you may have seen from the blurb at the top of this blog, one of my activities outside work is researching my doctoral thesis on the role of the Opposition in British politics. During my trawls of the archives I uncovered papers about how in 1976 Margaret Thatcher secured the use of the current Shadow Cabinet Room for her team. Using this material and archive photos of Shadow Cabinets meeting there under successive Leaders of the Opposition, I put together an exhibition called "Government's Waiting Room", which I launched in the Shadow Cabinet Room last night.
I was of course delighted by the turnout of VIPs - Lady Thatcher had accepted my invitation a couple of months ago, but I was asked to keep it quiet due to the obvious media interest. She was joined by all the other surviving Conservative Leaders except for John Major, who was out of the country. We also had a number of members of the Shadow Cabinet from the 1970s, including Tom King, Norman Fowler and Sir Teddy Taylor. The late Lord Hailsham and Angus Maude were represented by their sons, both now MPs, Douglas Hogg and Francis Maude.
Lady Thatcher was on top form, and clearly enjoyed herself at the photocall and the reception afterwards. She gave me a few words of advice on effective opposition, but you'll have to wait to read my finished thesis before I pass those on!
You have hand it to Gordon Brown- it takes some real skill to manufacture such an unmitigated political disaster out of thin air. He's still Prime Minister, he still has a Labour majority in the Commons, but thanks to his appallingly bad judgement in trying to spin to victory, he is now an infinitely diminished figure, subjected to gleeful taunts by his opponents and criticism from his party and the media. The only comfort I can think of for him is that the blame is not all his- David Cameron has performed superbly this week, Leading a Conservative fightback that many thought impossible. We've now seen the contrast between the great Prime Minister Cameron will be, and the weak, brooding coward with whom we're stuck for another few years.