David Cameron sometimes entertains visitors to Number 10 in a first-floor room which looks over Horse Guards towards St James's Park. For many years, it went by the bland name of the White Room; recently, it was retitled the Thatcher Room. A portrait of the blue lady has been hung on a wall. But you'd be wrong to think it was Mr C who decided to establish this memorial to Mrs T. He stresses it was not he who turned the room into a mini-shrine to the Iron Lady; it was his predecessor. And this is true: Gordon Brown had the room renamed in honour of the Conservative prime minister who pulverised the trade unions, privatised the industries, sold off council houses, squeezed the state and routed the Labour party.What does this Thatcher fixation have to tell us? Brown is of the generation, like myself, that remembers the era only too well. Extraordinary.
Then, thanks to a surprise birthday present, I have been reading Tony Blair's memoirs. All reviewers, whether sympathetic or not, have agreed that it is dreadfully, even embarrassingly, written. They are not kidding. Take this on the night of the 1997 election victory:
Hadn't we fought a great campaign? Hadn't we impaled our enemies on our bayonet, like ripe fruit? Hadn't our strategies, like something derived from destiny, scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts?Blair is making a nice point about the sheer fear he felt on taking power with absolutely no experience of government. But the language ... and the book continues in the same vein. All I can really say is that this glimpse of some of the thinking inside 'the project' leaves me bewildered at the strangeness of it all.