Friday, June 13, 2008

House Points: Lord Bonkers looks back over the last 20 years

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News. It turns out that it is the 1000th issue rather than the 20th birthday, but the thought was there.

Incidentally, the joke about masonry bees, which first appeared in an early Lord Bonkers' Diary, occurred to me when I came across them at the house in Shropshire where Malcolm Saville wrote Mystery at Witchend.

You see how it all fits together?

Completely Bonkers

What could I do this week but give over this column to Lord Bonkers? I have been editing the diaries of Rutland’s most celebrated peer for Liberator magazine for almost as long as the Liberal Democrats have existed. So here are his thoughts on the 20th birthday of Liberal Democrat News.

I sit in front of my hearth with a tumbler of Auld Johnston, that most celebrated of Highland malts, at my elbow, wondering that the last 20 years have passed so quickly. Let me share with you the pictures I see in the flames.

People say that Dr David Owen - or ‘Dr Death‘, as he is affectionately known by his many friends in politics - was so demoralised when his "Continuing SDP finished behind the Monster Raving Loony Party at the first Bootle by-election of 1990 that he closed the party down.

That is true, but it is equally the case that David Sutch never recovered from his disappointment at beating Owen by such a narrow margin. The poor fellow was to take his own life only a few years later.

In those days I had my own problems with masonry bees here at Bonkers Hall. (They burrowed into the mortar and exchanged peculiar handshakes.)

Time moved on, and the New Party and it philosophy of Newism was swept to power. I remember asking one newly appointed minister why he had not undone more of the mischief wrought by the Tories. "It's very simple," he replied. "Privatisation, for instance, is Government policy, so now that we are the Government it automatically becomes our policy."

Not that the Conservative Party took their defeat well. It appointed William Hague as its new leader. As a six-year-old he had wowed the party‘s conference. Three years later, now aged 74, he thought he would become prime minister. It was not to be.

The fire has burned low and I see I must draw my remarks to a conclusion. There is no time for me to tell you about the Bonkers Patent Exploding Focus (for use in marginal wards) and its important role in the Leicester South by-election.

Instead let me finish by wishing you the best of good fortune and raising my glass. Here’s to the next twenty years.

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