Just back from a short pre-canvassing break to the Canary Islands, only to find you bunch have been soaking up the sun back here in blighty.
On the plane on the way back I read the obituary in the Guardian of Tony Newton, former Health Secretary in Thatcher’s government, described by Hugo Young as “a good man, quite outside the nasty brigade”.
It got me thinking, that despite the vile nature of the Thatcher regime of the 1980′s, with the likes of Tebbit, Parkinson, Joseph, Mellor and a whole host of other right-wing creeps, it was still possible for people with an ounce of human decency to survive in those circles. Not only Newton, of course, Thatcher’s Cabinets, certainly in her first Government, contained a number of old one-nation Tories.
As it says in Newton’s obituary,
…his two daughters went to state schools and that this Tory health minister did not belong to any private scheme. He never pretended to be a Thatcherite, voted against capital punishment, opposed beating in schools and was never, in Thatcher’s terms, “one of us”. As a backbencher, he urged humanitarian and rather interventionist causes: the holding down of VAT on electrical repairs, a higher tax allowance for pensioners, plus tax relief for blind people and on travel to work costs. A private member’s bill proposed the continuation of a disabled person’s mobility allowance after retirement.
You just wonder, looking at the bunch of smug millionaires surrounding Cameron, whether someone like Newton could survive amongst the current “nasty brigade”. Even if you look at the likes of Clegg’s cohorts dipping their noses in Cameron’s trough, you get no feeling that they have anything but personal ambition as a motive for their actions.
When they write the obituaries of the likes of Clegg, Alexander, Huhne and co. it seems barely credible that the phrase used about Newton, that he was a walking contradiction of the cynical mantra that politicians are all in it for themselves could ever be used.