Anorak News | Ted Rocked

Ted Rocked

by | 18th, July 2005

‘THE front-page news that Sir Edward Heath is dead must come as a shock to those of us who thought he went to that big green bench in the sky long ago.

Heath was more than a footnote in Thatcher’s career

But the Telegraph leads with the news that last night the man who never forgave Margaret Thatcher for ousting him as Tory party leader passed away at the sprightly age of 89.

Fittingly, it’s from that Thatcher woman the Telegraph first hears. (When Thatcher’s herself was ousted as leader, Heath was reported to have said: “Rejoice! Rejoice!” Although he later claimed he’d been misquoted and had really said: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!”)

“Ted Heath was a political giant,” says Maggie. “He was also, in every sense, the first modern Conservative leader.”

In some ways he was ahead of his time. In an age when politicians say how radical they are while parading their traditional families and what, may loosely be called, Victorian values, Heath was a bachelor who loved sailing, captaining Britain’s winning Admiral’s Cup team in 1971.

But his lasting legacy will not to have been a single man in power, but, as the Times says, to have led Britain into the European Common Market.

Good thing? Bad thing? The surprise is that we even have to ask.

Few of our leaders are brave enough to champion European unity. Whether its William Hague’s ludicrous “Save the pound” campaign or Gordon Brown’s gnostic five economic tests into Britain’s suitability for entering the single currency, our leaders’ stance on Europe is unequivocally ambivalent.

And it’s spiced with fear. Just listen to the Times: “Leaders in waiting out to conjure a new vision of Europe.”

No, not David Cameron, Alan Duncan or any number of hopefuls in the running to be the next Tory leader. These are the “stars of a new Paris-Berlin axis”.

Do we like the sound of that? Angela Merkel, Germany’s “probable” next Chancellor and Nicolas Sarkozy, “France’s would-be next President”, are meeting in a Paris townhouse tomorrow.

There, they will draw the outline of a new European landscape. The Times says this is “both welcome and a challenge to Britain”.

Rather than being delighted that two leading lights of European unity are searching for a way forward in the aftermath of the EU constitution debacle, we are encouraged to worry.

A mood not helped by our leaders’ reticence or inability to decide which way to jump.

Heath may not have been the greatest prime minister, but he was at least able to make a decision…’

Posted: 18th, July 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink