Friday, June 18, 2010

The ugliness of being right

Total Politics marks the fortieth anniversary of Edward Heath's elevation to the premiership with an overview of 'the good, the bad and the ugly' of his term of office. Actually, 'the ugly' has got far more to do with what happened after Mrs Thatcher deposed him as Tory leader, and is summarised in the following terms -

"Withdrawal: Heath delivers a comprehensive lesson in how to best ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’. He refused to take part in Thatcher’s shadow cabinet and later declined the post of British Ambassador to the United States, going on to criticise the ideological direction of the Conservative Party."

Hmmm. Heath may have made a mistake by refusing the initial offer of a place in the shadow cabinet (although his successor was hardly the model of good grace when she was toppled in a similar manner fifteen years later), but the rest is a transparent attempt to rewrite history from a Thatcherite worldview. He was practically begging for a role in Mrs Thatcher's cabinet on the night of the 1979 election, but was totally rebuffed, and if he'd accepted the offer to become the ambassador to Washington he would have been completely sidelined from British politics. As for "going on to criticise the ideological direction of the Conservative Party", that wasn't so much "ugly" as...well, right.


  1. It's funny lookin back an' gaun 'guid auld Mr Heath' tae yersel. Ah couldnae staun him at the time, he wis a jumped-up wee arrivist. But compared wi the harriden that follaed him, he wis a saint! His wis a Toryism ye could live wi, ye werenae worryin aboot haein a stroke every day, like under Maggie.

    He shouldnae hae led us oan wi his Declaration o' Perth though. We dinnae forget easy y'know.

  2. But would I be right in saying that what was proposed in the Declaration of Perth was barely even worthy of the term 'devolution' anyway, Sophia?

  3. Aye ye're no wrang James, it wis a sop an' nothin mair, an' it didnae exactly go doon weel wi' his party, but it wis at least acknowledgement o' the issue, which is mair than they've done since. Mibbe they widnae be in their present parlous state in Scotland if they had listened tae Ted.