Guy Fawkes’ Night is a perpetual celebration of liberty over tyranny

Published by Daily Mail

Parliament burningI don’t know David Cameron very well: I’ve met him on four or five occasions, the most interesting of which was sitting next to him at a dinner a few years ago, during which we discussed some serious issues relating to education and a few more weighty matters of political philosophy. On education, he appeared to agree with everything I said. On philosophy, he appeared to agree with everything I said. His mission seemed to be to nod and smile benignly; to appear pleasant, intuitive and empathetic.

I know Dominic Grieve rather better, having met him dozens of times since he entered Parliament (he’s my MP) and having been his association deputy chairman in Beaconsfield. He is also pleasant and articulate, though more cerebral than intuitive, and more intellectually incisive than reassuringly empathetic. Continue reading


The Conservative leadership is destroying its membership

Published by ConservativeHome and The Guardian

BCCA membership 2012The above graph shows rather starkly the decline of the “Premier League” Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association over the period I’ve been a member (‘Premier League’ is an epithet bestowed by CCHQ upon those associations which regularly contribute £10,000s to Party coffers – a kind of “cash for status” [with a bit of access]). Notwithstanding a few local variables (like the enforced “cash for questions” resignation of Tim Smith MP in 1997 – during which, it must be observed, association membership remained relatively stable), it is difficult not to attribute this alarming rate of decline to the policy direction and character disposition of the party leader: the less “robust” the pursuit of traditional (not to say “Thatcherite”) Conservative policies, the more people are disinclined to renew their Party membership, even in the “true blue” Tory shires. Continue reading


More Prowse than Poetry

Published by Dale & Co

Pygmalion, Garrick Theatre


Rupert Everett and Kara Tointon. Photo by Hugo Glendenning.

It is very difficult watching a play when the text has been almost entirely appropriated by one of the most successful theatrical partnerships in history, and made into the libretto of one of the greatest musicals of all time. It’s not that George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion cannot now exist independently of Lerner and Loewe’s legendary treatment in My Fair Lady; it’s simply that the two have become symbiotic to the extent that you can’t help hearing a cue for a song in just about every scene.

But the problem with Philip Prowse’s Pygmalion is not so much that it lacks bursts of ‘Why can’t the English’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be loverly?’; it’s that a great deal of Shaw’s sizzling wit, sociological perception and political acumen fail to find adequate expression in Rupert Everett’s incarnation of Henry Higgins. The play begins rather heavily with Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ (not sure why), which prepares us for nothing but Everett’s interminable brooding and indulgent stream of pomposity. I don’t like beginning a theatre review with ‘the problem’, but there you have it. Continue reading