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You'll be happy to know I can't get digital :D

Surely they have a 'free-for-comrades' internet terminal with digital streaming in the co-op, Comstock? ;-)

Even though I cannot get BBC4 and hence cannot watch the program, I'd wager a bet that the program shows the Beeb's well-documented left-wing bias.

What a fantastic programme. It really showed how far in to the process of "change" we are. And that change, is the only way we will win.

Didn't learn all that much from this programme as most of the ground has been covered before.
Portillo is a mass of contradictions,sometimes searingly honest and self depracating but also sometimes rather dishonourable and always inconsistent.
I thought the most incisive commets came from Patten and Clarke when they stated that for MPs to have got rid of a serving PM who had won the last election was a colossal mistake. If Mrs Thatcher had to be removed it should be at the hand of the electorate ,no one else.
And what of Mrs Thatcher? Superb as PM, a great figure in her glory years but I felt sad watching the interviews from the Major and Hague eras. She was diminished and her strident remarks which had seemed so powerful in the 1980's later seemed desperately out of touch.
The worst character in the programme? Mellor by a country mile. I'd forgotten what a smug self satisfied oily man he is. He perhaps more than anyone else personifies why Britain fell out of love with the Conservative Party in the 1990's.

It was a nicely-done show, and I found Portillo's self-deprecation typically appealing. I was always a big fan, even though he was a fool not to stand in 1995, a coward not to take Uxbridge at the by-election just after 1997 (and so be available for the 1997 leadership) and an idiot to spend all his time going on about cannabis in 2001. Even then, he would have got it in 2003 if he hadn't gone off in a sulk. A splendid fellow, who was basically right all through and would have been a truly excellent leader, had he not been spineless when it really came down to it.

A shame.


I disagreed with them in their criticism of removing a sitting leader. A problem we've had, though, is that when we remove someone we feel unable to go for the replacement we should. There was little to be gained from getting rid of Thatcher unless we were going to take Heseltine. And there was nothing whatever to be said for losing Hague if we weren't going to have Portillo.

In terms of the process, the Parliamentary leader is the leader of the MPs. If the MPs don't want that person to lead them, they must have someone else. (This is a weakness of our current leadership system.) If Mrs Thatcher no longer commanded the support of the Conservative MPs she had to go. They had every right to withdraw that support. Personally I think they panicked, and that she would have won in 1992, but be that as it may, they were perfectly entitled to have whomever they chose as their leader.

As usual Andrew I disagree with everything you've written. Probably not worth arguing over but I expect Mrs Thatcher would have lost badly in 1992 but we wouldn't have had the poison that has ruined the party for 15 years since. If a party leader has won a handsome victory at the polls as she did in 1987 it is not for a couple of hundred of diasaffected MPs to remove except in the most exceptional of circumstances.


Do you think that the country today would have been better had Kinnock beaten Thatcher in 1992? I mean that as a genuine question - I have no strong prior. Perhaps you will say that Kinnock would have won in 1992 then Portillo in 1996 and we would now be in our twelfth year of the glorious age of the Portillistas...


Hope it's repeated :\

Fantastic programme. Lots of great stuff in there, and nice little touches - the self-deprecation which others have mentioned made this a peculiarly personal account of the Conservative Party over the last 30+ years, and it was all the better for that. It was also good to see a reconciliation of sorts between Hague and Portillo - Hague was good enough to do the interview, and hopefully Portillo now recognises that Hague is a good egg and the most loyal servant the Party has. (I've always seen Hague more than Davis as the Whitelaw of Cameron's party, but perhaps that's just me.)

I think there are also many lessons in this for David Cameron. It did strike me just how far we have come under his leadership in terms of moving on from the tired debates of the 90s. He has the potential to unite all sides of the Conservative Party, representing both a break with the recent past, as well as a possibility to recreate that sense of hope for the future which Margaret Thatcher used to such fantastic effect. Portillo ended on a sentiment with which we can hopefully all agree - Cameron must start to inspire in the same way that Thatcher did all those years ago, in the darkest days of the 1970s. It is time for greater courage of our convictions and, above all, to show the public a little bit of passion. Cameron is very well placed to do this thanks to the groundwork laid over the past 2 years.

If anyone missed it, like i did, it's on the BBC's iplayer to download or watch online!

Just imagine if Neil Kinnock had won in 1992 (whether he beat Thatcher or Major).

The ERM would still have been a reality, and Black Wednesday probably still have happened.

Labour's already dodgy economic credentials would have been shattered for another generation.

The European arguments would most definitely still have happened, but to Labour (there are some ardent Eurosceptics in Labour).

I strongly suspect that Portillo would have won in 1996/7, and Labour would have repeated their usual cycle - a brief period in power followed by a long period out.

Winning the 1992 election (regardless of leader) was a bad outcome for the Conservative Party.

The lesson? Well, one for Labour I would say. If Brown 'does a Major' and limps to a small victory at the next election, Labour risk being deeply unpopular and divided by the 2014 election. You think they're tired and out of touch now? No Party should spend too long in power, and much beyond 10 years is too long. It's bad for the country and bad for the Party.

James, while winning in 1992 was certainly bad for the Conservative Party, it was good for the country and for the Conservative cause overall.

The Labour Party of 1992 lead by Neil Kinnock was very different party to the Labour Party of Blair. The 1992 Labour Party still believed in Clause 4 etc. Loosing in 1992 killed Socilaism and showed the Labour Party that if they ever wanted to win again they had to accept most of what Thatcher did and come quite some way onto our ground.

Just watched this programme on Sky plus. Congratulations to Portillo - it was a Tour de Force!!
Brought back many memories for me of the 80s and early 90s, especially the events directly leading up to Mrs T's Resignation - at the time I worked for David Amess in the Commons and he was Michael's PPS. Emotions ran high and I remember the group of loyal MPs (to which Portillo alluded) going in a deputation to her office the evening before she resigned.
The overwhelming political message for me - and I know that this is what some of you will not want to hear - is that if the Conservative Party does not adapt to change and modernise, it withers and dies! Mrs Thatcher was the moderniser of her time - that point was effectively made by David Cameron at the end of the programme - and he in turn is the moderniser for OUR time! The "Bastards" of the early 90s and the "Better Off Outs" of our time are peas from the same pod. They preach the Gospel of Fundamentalism! Those who have allowed their ideas to evolve and have embraced modern Conservatism without letting go of Thatcher's Legacy are the ones who have prospered in the Conservative Party of the 21st Century - I can think of more than one Party loyalist that I have known from way back in the 1980s who would still regard themselves as Thatcherites yet frequently find themselves falsely condemned for their supposed views on Europe!

"The worst character in the programme? Mellor by a country mile. I'd forgotten what a smug self satisfied oily man he is. He perhaps more than anyone else personifies why Britain fell out of love with the Conservative Party in the 1990's."

Malcolm, on this point I agree with you 100%. I was struck by how reptilian he looked ... wonder if David Icke was watching?!

Sally -- David Icke is standing as the LibDem candidate for London mayor, isn't he? Honestly, cut his permed hair off and you're left with Paddick. Perhaps Mr Icke's hair is running elsewhere.

"Perhaps Mr Icke's hair is running elsewhere."

A scarey thought, "Hackney Cats"!!!

Yes an interesting and engaging programme. The inconsistencies in Mr Portillo's outlook arise from his despair of ever fully weening Britain from socialism. As a result, he seems to give different messages from each side of his mouth at once. He accepts, for instance, the logic and the merit of academic selection but believes it to be indelibly unpopular. So he would either not mention it at all or actively denigrate it. He sometimes stoops to calling those who campaign for it "reactionaries" - a smelly, marxist term or "self-indulgent" - when people of principle are anything but.

Another thing: he strikes me as a Hamlet figure - altogether too self aware and self conscious to take those frivolous leaps which lead on to triumph; a courteous, talking footnote, like Harold Nicholson or Chips Channon.

"Another thing: he strikes me as a Hamlet figure - altogether too self aware and self conscious to take those frivolous leaps which lead on to triumph; a courteous, talking footnote, like Harold Nicholson or Chips Channon."

Very good point, Simon Denis and it was extremely telling when in referring to disastrous telephone lines episode he admitted that the perception of him would have been as someone who was "willing to wound but afraid to strike!

Sally I'm a better of Outer.

You appear to condemn us why?

Many of us are ultra modernisers and recognise that the eu is a fossilised relic driven by a socialist agenda. What we want is to see Britain able to take the decisions that are important for us. There is absolutely no point being a moderniser if one cannot take the right (in every sense) decisions.

Fascinating programme - raised an interesting question without an answer: "Why did Thatcher promote Major so heavily?"

John Broughton - I think the BOO supporters are misguided and inward-looking. Yes you may feel (although I disagree) that the EU is "fossilised" but being a "Little Englander" simply isn't the answer - if you don't like the Institution then fight from the inside to change it!

Some cheaky remarks here about the Lib Dem candiate for Mayor. Lib Dems are tireless. We'll win the Mayor election.

The ERM would still have been a reality, and Black Wednesday probably still have happened.

Labour's already dodgy economic credentials would have been shattered for another generation.
Labour's position was one of renegociating the ranges permitted for the pound in the mechanism, this would rather render it pointless, but that and the length of time since the election would probably have left the Labour Party not held responsible for it, especially as a number of European currencies were under attack at the time.

The biggest problem for the Major administration was how stubbornly they refused to accept the devaluation and continued to attempt to prop the pound up by buying pounds and pushing up the interest rate, and how damaging that was to the UK economy.

The UK is best off out of the EU, it is not a matter of Little Englanders or Little Britishers, but of being free to pursue Free Trade with the rest of the Commonwealth and with NAFTA and China, and of avoiding liberal policies that prevent the UK adequately being able to deal with terrorism and add a block in the way of implimenting forms of Capital Punishment. Perhaps the UK could attempt a Free Trade area based on the Commonwealth and perhaps countries such as Turkey and not forcing political union and permitting use of Capital and Cororal Punishment and that does not push notions of codeified human rights.

Yet Another Anon,
Whilst working out in the States a few years ago, there was an article in a publication for British ex-pats where a senator was arguing that Britain should be allowed to join NAFTA. Has anyone seriosuly looked into Britain joining NAFTA?

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