Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Tories are a Bunch of Worthless Opportunists

What an intensely nauseating bunch of popularity hounds the Conservative Party's leadership are! Frankly, these people deserve to remain in the political doldrums they're in. At least Blair has been willing to risk his neck for what he believes, whether or not I agree with his policies.

A wide-ranging shakeup of the BBC, including a dramatic cut in the licence fee, is likely to be dropped from the Tories' next general election manifesto as Michael Howard attempts to tap into widespread anger at Downing Street's treatment of the corporation.

In a major change of heart, the Tory leadership is planning to shelve a radical report by the former Channel Five chief David Elstein which will be published amid great fanfare today.

The report, which was commissioned under Iain Duncan Smith, would have led to the most wide-ranging changes in the BBC's 82-year history by calling for a phasing out of the licence fee over 10 years. Mr Duncan Smith had planned to use the Elstein recommendations as the basis for a populist manifesto pledge to cut the licence fee, which he regarded as an unfair "poll tax".

The new Tory leadership has decided, however, that it would be better off positioning the party as the friend of the BBC in the wake of the fallout from the Hutton report. Well-placed Tories believe that the widespread public anger at the Hutton report, which exonerated the government and censured the BBC, shows there is great political mileage in standing by the corporation.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary who is in overall charge of the party's policy on the BBC, made a show of support for the corporation by lunching with Greg Dyke within days of his ousting as director general. Mr Davis is understood to believe that it would be foolish to float plans for the break-up of the BBC at the very moment when Mr Dyke will launch a stinging attack on Downing Street in his forthcoming memoirs.

Spineless, pandering careerists! Why would anyone in his right mind vote for politicians for whom principles mean absolutely nothing? Say what you like about Margaret Thatcher, but at least with her you knew what she stood for.