Two high-level resignations in just a couple of days:
- Lord Hesketh, one-time Tory Treasurer, defects to UKIP.
- Roger Helmer is about to resign from the Euro-parliament.
Both give the same reason: disillusion with Cameroonie policy back in Whitehall.
Malcolm has always held the notion it would be the European issue that broke not just the ConDem coalition, but — once again — also the Tory Party. Come the moment, the wedge-issue could be Labour, coolly and cynically, backing a referendum on matters European. If Merkel gets her way, that opportunity might come sooner rather than later — the dynamic is already building in Ireland (and Martyn Turner exploiting, as right).
Helmer is particularly blunt:
… my decision is dictated in part by my increasing disillusion with the attitudes of the Conservative Party. I am finding it ever more difficult to defend the policies of the Coalition, not only on my key issues of Europe, and of climate and energy, but on a range of other matters besides.
I will have more to say about this in coming days.
Malcolm very much doubts Helmer will have much of use or ornament to say; and will go largely unreported. The climate-change-deniers, in particular, are the nearest approach to British Israelites and flat-earthers the Tories have as statutory resident weirdos at the moment.
Even so, Helmer can put himself around. Yet another dissident voice floating around the Round Table circuit and Tory dinners is not what the party hierarchs would prescribe.
Helmer is, in any case, a loose cannon with a run-away tongue, prepared to pontificate on anything from sexual relations via religious faith and the divine right to break speed limits to serious politics.
Above all, as Norman Clegg said of Foggy Dewhurst, on their first meeting, “I confidently expect this one is potty on a full -time basis.”
The relocation of Helmer to Roy Clarke’s version of Holmfirth, rambling and ambling along that marvellously-named Upperthong Lane (better believe it!) , is none too fantastical, either. He’d fit right — well, far right — in.
Looking a trifle closer, there is an extra level here, and it’s one of intra-party factions.
By resigning at the end of the year, Helmer eases into place by co-option an also-ran Tory from the last euro-election, and so books a spot for the next one. This would apparently be one Rupurt Matthews, a fellow spirit on the frothing wing of the Tory Party.
The intention: so that CCHQ can’t fiddle the list come next election.