June 25, 2001
English Leader for an English Party
Michael Ancram is nice but
should never be the leader of the Conservative Party
famed powers of prediction again failed me. When I was looking,
at the five candidates to take over the leadership of the Conservative
Party, one name failed me, that of Michael
Ancram. After a first flurry of expectation when the contest
started, he was written off. Now, suddenly, he is being seen as
candidate who can reassure the right with his instincts and
reassure the left with the feeling that he is a jolly decent old
Ancram is seen to have a large set of handicaps. Firstly, he is
a Catholic, although as the front runner Michael
Portillo is also Catholic (although non-practising) this does
not matter. There is also the fact that he is an aristocrat and
a very grand one too (even though he has not yet inherited the family
title he is still an Earl). He is seen as being on the left of the
party, although he is distinctly to the right of the ideological
left's candidate, Ken
Clarke indeed, he has probably scuppered Clarke's
campaign by entering. He was also the party
chairman during and in the period leading up to this election,
and so some of the blame for the poor result must attach to him.
is one more serious impediment to his election as leader of the
Conservative Party, and that is his nationality. Most of England
is now being run by a foreign regime. The Prime
Minister is a Scotsman. The Chancellor
of the Exchequer is a Scotsman. The leader
of the Liberal Democrats, Britain's perennial third party, is
a Scotsman. The "independent" speaker
of the House of Commons is a Scotsman. The leader
of the House of Commons is a Scotsman. The foreign
secretary was a post that until recently was held by a Scotsman.
There seems no place in senior British politics open to the English.
The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the writ of
the government over which the Scots lord barely runs in Scotland.
The Scottish parliament decides how its disproportionate share of
government spending is spent, and makes most of its own laws, while
the government that its denizens run makes the laws for England.
VERY ENGLISH SCOT
is where Michael Ancram comes in. It is hard to tell from the way
he speaks that he is in fact a Scot. He sounds so, well, English.
In this way, he is very like Tony Blair. Michael Ancram may have
been born in Scotland, and spent most of his legal and political
career there, but he was educated in an English boarding school,
and so sounds like an English toff. However he comes from a Scottish
aristocratic family (his father is a Scottish Marquis) and he served
for years on the Scottish bar and became an MP for a Scottish constituency.
He went south and got a safe English seat, but his friends and loyalty
are to the north of Hadrian's Wall.