Maggie Thatcher, tank commander, was brave, Boris is just sleekit – Susan Morrison

Susan Morrison is seriously disappointed with Tories for their apparent fondness for a “walking bag of washing with a deflating balloon stuck on top”, given the courage of her previous arch-enemy, Margaret Thatcher.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 1:29 pm
This picture taken on January 23, 1976 shows Margaret Thatcher, then chairwoman of the British Conservative Party, and lieutnant Parradine sitting on a tank of the 7th regiment of the Royal Signals in Herford, western Germany. Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" who shaped a generation of British politics, died following a stroke on April 8, 2013 at the age of 87, her spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

Back in the day when I was an angry young activist, we used to sit in pubs filled with smoke and plot the imminent downfall of capitalism and the Tories, and earnestly debate who’s round it was. For some reason, us ardent young proponents of the distribution of wealth never quite got around to the idea of a kitty.

Every now and then our enemies would appear in the pub. No, not the other socialists, but we did hate them. And not the Liberals. They were only called Liberals in them days. They hadn’t branched out to the Democrat bit. And there were only five of them. No, the Young Conservatives.

Battle usually started verbally, but before too long there was pushing and shoving and we all got thrown out. The young Tories would then pile into one of their motors and leave us shaking our fists on the pavement. We didn’t have cars, obviously.

Once, a tweed-wearing son of a Borders farmer leaned out and shouted: “Maggie would batter you lot.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We all fell silent on the pavement, because we all knew she would have. To this day, I have no doubt that had revolution ever come to the streets, I might have been hefting Molotovs over the barricade, but Margaret Thatcher would have been coming at me in a tank, and if that tank ran out of fuel and ammo, Maggie would have tied her headscarf on and started chucking anything that came to hand. Denis would have done his bit by heroically draining the last of No 10’s whisky to hurl empty bottles at the advancing peasantry.

All my adult life I have hated ­Margaret Thatcher for what she did, but I cannot deny, that woman was brave.

Part of me thinks she would rather have gone down all guns ­blazing, screaming “This lady’s not for ­turning!” at the mob, leading a last stand before a burning House of Commons. Part of me almost wishes she had, and not ended her days ­rattling about a house in Dulwich with her brain mushed and constantly looking for Denis.

You could see why the Tories adored her, until she went bonkers, of course and thought she was president. She went to Europe and handbagged people. Her own front bench looked like school boys before those imperious eyes.

Tories love a good war leader. So why they seem hellbent on following the coward of the county is a puzzle. Boris is that frightful oik of a schoolboy who doesn’t even have the guts to be a bully. The kind who sneaks stories to teachers to land other kids in trouble.

Tories used to have certain expectations of their leaders and MPs. Profumo was a naughty boy for carrying on with a lithesome young dame who also happened to be sleeping with the enemy. He told a fib to the House. He had to resign. He’s bloody lucky he didn’t wind up alone in a room with a loaded revolver and a glass of malt whisky.

Cecil Parkinson did the decent thing by the party and shuffled off when his mistress revealed she was about to have his baby. He doesn’t appear to have done the decent thing by them, ­incidentally. His political mistress at the time reportedly went ballistic when she was told. How much would I have given to see that?

Remember David Mellor? Haunted forever by a Chelsea strip and dreams of a career derailed by the front page of The Sun.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has a career in scandal practically unmatched in Tory history. We’ve got the lot there. Wrecked marriages, at least one love child, and gaggle of ex-girlfrends cluttering the place up.

Just as an aside, the fact that any woman can let that shambling mess get close enough for conception, planned or otherwise, is a complete mystery to me.

There’s a good Scots word for Boris – sleekit

Out there in Toryland, the chairs of the constituencies will be voting on their leader. They have clapped their rheumy eyes on the Mr Blobby of British politics and overlooked the scandals, the money and the screaming rows in the middle of the night.

This man, they say, is the man to get the job done. Tell Europe what’s what.

The retired colonels of the counties and the twinset madams of the shires appear to be prepared to overlook the fact that this man is such a coward he won’t even turn up to a debate. There are jellyfish lying on Portobello beach with more backbone than him. The man is a living definition of the great Scottish word sleekit.

They used to follow a woman who weaponised her handbag. They expect this walking bag of washing with a deflating balloon stuck on the top to go and play hardball with Europe?

Seriously, Tories, I expected better from you.