The Fourteenth Marquis of Lothion, otherwise known as Michael Ancram is a fine Conservative. I know him. Despite the 'blue blood' there is not the slightest 'side to him. He is approachable, utterly dependable and a fine singer. I believe he has the broad personal appeal to make a wonderful 'Speaker' of the Commons. All of this makes his contribution to yesterday's Telegraph all the more surprising. I decided not to comment until today because I didn't want to be wheeled out to participate in a 'Tory row'.
Because of its timing, I don't think its credible to see this as anything but unhelpful. At the very least, Michael did not ask himself "What am I going to do today to help the Conservative Party win the next election". It would be different if he was selling his booklet 'Still a Conservative' rather than giving it away to anyone who wants to read it. (I hope he will send a copy to parliamentary candidates).
And there are Conservatives who will agree with his analysis, even if deploring his timing. I agree with much of it myself - except his discussion of 'sovereignty' as if it was some solid, clearly definable concept. Its not. Sovereignty is fluid and divisible. Michael has spent too much time trading in soundbites. Anyway, I think it worth repeating his description of what he sees as a Conservative.
"We believe in people, in their individual freedom and right to choose; we believe in promoting aspiration and merit; we believe in the smaller state, in value for taxpayer's money and in being the 'good neighbour'; we believe in the family; in protecting and conserving our environment; and above all in the resolute defence of our sovereignty and our realm." Apart from his incoherence about sovereignty, which the 'blue bloods' probably have implanted within their souls at the mother's breast, I'd sign up to all this. The Fourteenth Marquis of Lothian would make a fine Speaker though - and this piece could be (how shall I put this without causing trouble) an attempt to widen his appeal.