Monday, August 22, 2005

"Ordeal By Dinner Party"

So what must it be like at those Wheeler dinner parties? You're the candidate, up there in Stuart's Mayfair penthouse, facing not just the man himself, but also a battery of 'commentators' who've been invited along specially to make the evening go with a swing.

And you'd better come up with the right answers, because this man's pretty important in the old party purse-strings department. The man with the golden chequebook, who finally did for poor IDS, and who could stop you in your tracks.

Feeling hungry yet? Because you're going to have to eat. Wonder what it would be? Some light modern British creation perhaps? Easy to slip down. Hmm...more likely to be traditional school dinners. Trencherman helpings. Well, you'd better not eat anything else that day.

Particularly since DD will be in his element: “I’m a meat and potatoes man. I don’t like all that poncey muck” (Davis quote in The Daily Telegraph June 2oo1).

At least you know what Stuart's looking for, because he tells us:

"The new leader has got to say what he or she means. He has got to say, 'This is the right thing to do. It's not popular, but I'm going to explain why it's the right thing to do.'

For example, on pensions, it's too obvious that people are going to have to work longer and get their pensions later. It's right that politicians come out and say that."

No wonder David Cameron- only half Wheeler's age, and due round this week- has been talking up the need to develop "inter-generational" pensions policy. And doubtless he'll be working up something suitable on single mothers.

Actually, I once had a chat with Wheeler, although I only found out later who he was. I recall someone who's pretty sharp, but also quite warm. So maybe he'd let you eat first, then grill you after.

In any event, we do know that his choices for leader in 2003 were Howard, Davis , or Letwin (er...). So I'm pretty sure that at the end of all his eating he'll come to the same conclusion as the rest of us:

DD For Leader.


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