A good man forced out by lesser men

By Stephen Pollard
May 30, 2007

To coin a phrase: there are two sides to every story.

On the one side, Graham Brady disagreed with the recent speech by David Willetts and the anti-grammar school comments of David Cameron added in interviews later. His response was to write a piece in the New Statesman, which was temperate and clearly reasoned. At no point did he criticise either his leader or David Willetts. He followed this by publishing figures obtained from the Commons Library which showed that "GCSE results are significantly better in areas that have an element of selective education – with ethnic minority children benefiting most."

At every stage he behaved decently and properly. He played the ball, not the man.

But there's another side to the story. His restrained contribution to the debate was dismissed as "delusional" by Mr Cameron. His conversation with the Chief Whip was spun by the Cameroonians:

A spokeswoman for Mr Cameron said: “Graham has been severely reprimanded by the Chief Whip and told to stick to his brief.”

Mr Brady is now expected to lose his portfolio in next month’s reshuffle.

He was then subjected to a further day of hostile briefings by the Cameroonians.

At no point were his arguments even considered, let alone dealt with. They played the man, not the ball. Not that anyone should be surprised at Mr Cameron's tactics or behaviour. Jeff Randall, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said he would not trust Mr Cameron "with my daughter's pocket money":

To describe Cameron's approach to corporate PR as unhelpful and evasive overstates by a widish margin the clarity and plain-speaking that he brought to the job of being Michael Green's mouthpiece...In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair.

Dissembling? David Cameron? Last year, defending his refusal to sack Boris Johnson, he said:

This is the Conservative Party. We are not New Labour, we don't mind if people go off message. We love it, actually.

Anyone who thinks spin and Stalinism will vanish with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is, one might say, delusional.

Mr Brady resigned yesterday. Principle is a rare thing in the 'we are more New Labour than New Labour' Conservative Party of today. Had he chosen, Mr Brady could have kept his mouth shut from the beginning and no one would have thought the worse of him for that. Instead, he spoke up for his constituents, and for the opportunity for all children who would be able to benefit from an academic education to have just that.


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