Friday, July 11, 2008
I also respect the fact that he sacrificed his political future for a cause he passionately believes in.I think that is true only if he considered being a senior cabinet Minister as the height of a political career. I recognise that to many, indeed most politicians it is.
A different way of looking at it is to be ambitious to do something rather than to hold a position. I think that is what he has chosen. He is not going to get the top job but then he wasn't anyway.
What he is now going to get is the massive approval of the public & of party members. Next time he speaks at a Conservative Conference the applause will raise the roof. If he uses it wisely he will have more control over the Tory agenda than anyone but Cameron & possibly more influence with their next political generation than anyone at all.
This gives him an influence over the broad Tory agenda greater than any possible Minister other than Cameron. From the back benches he is in a position to push anything he likes & to be listened to which is not given to mere ministers. Indeed he is much freer to enter public debate than Cameron, who has to watch every word for political incorrectness. When the Tories form the government he he will be able to look beyond day to day matters at the long term - something which ministers with their Red Boxes simply don't have the time to.
He will hold a unique position in the party as its conscience, think tank & Nelson Mandela all rolled up in one. Michael Foot held a similar though much lesser position in Labour until he was foolish enough to destroy his career by becoming leader.
He has managed this by the singular feat of finding a way of resigning from shadow cabinet without having to criticise his boss (& therefore the boss dare not criticise him) Demonstrating courage an independent mind & loyalty all at the same time. It may well be that he likes Cameron no more than Brown liked Blair & unlike that partnership there are clearly real policy differences between them. However Cameron has played his hand with less naked ambition & far more finesse.