Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 3 October 2009

For years, I kept Labour’s shortest version of its 1997 ‘pledge card’.

For years, I kept Labour’s shortest version of its 1997 ‘pledge card’.

For years, I kept Labour’s shortest version of its 1997 ‘pledge card’. On one side, in red, were the party’s key pledges and a photograph of Tony Blair beside which it said, ‘strong’ (Daily Telegraph). The other side was blue, stated the main shortcomings of the Tories and carried a picture of John Major beside which it said ‘weak’ (Daily Telegraph). Sadly, I have now lost the card, and have forgotten what the famous pledges were. A colleague recently asked me if the Conservatives, now approaching New Labour’s winning position in 1997, were to produce their own pledge card at their conference next week, what it would say. I could not think of any answers at all. Is this because of a disgraceful evasion by a party which lays claim to government? Or is it an entirely reasonable refusal to be tied to silly promises which circumstances could nullify?

Last week, I bumped into Malcolm Turnbull, who is now the leader of the Liberal (i.e. Tory) party in Australia, and was in London to see David Cameron. I first met Mr Turnbull about 25 years ago, when I found him sitting in my office in The Spectator (I was then the editor). He had come to tell me that his boss, Kerry Packer, was about to buy the paper. ‘Kerry’s not only motivated by greed,’ was how he explained it to me. Luckily, the bid did not come off, and Mr Turnbull went on to higher things — fighting the Thatcher government over the Spycatcher case, trying to turn Australia into a republic. He is a brilliant and amusing man, and has become more kindly than the aggressive young lawyer I remembered.

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