Just when you think the Conservative Party’s metamorphosis is truly gathering momentum under David Cameron, up pops a little maggot from its core to give everyone a flavour of what still lurks under the surface.
Nigel Hastilow, Conservative candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, was forced to resign last week after writing a column in a local newspaper expressing his support for Enoch Powell’s infamous immigration speech of 1968. I suppose the fact that he was dismissed from the party ranks is a sign of progress*, but the support he received from other factions within the Conservative Party at large shows how much work is still to be done if they are ever going to find mass appeal. It’s one thing to propose a debate on immigration, it’s quite another to dredge up the discredited Powell and his hysterical “rivers of blood” imagery.
Meanwhile, exhuming Jonathan Aitken can hardly be considered a great leap forward either. Aitken is to head a task force on prison reform: a subject close to his own heart, for sure, given that he was jailed for perjury, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perverting the course of justice. I wonder if he will dig out his “simple sword of justice” and “trusty shield of fair play” for his new role?
*Update: Actually, thinking about it, this isn’t progress at all. Powell himself was dismissed from the shadow cabinet at the time so this is just more of the same, nearly 40 years later.