Michael Howard’s sixteen beliefs, published today, read like a National Trust tea-towel with an unsavoury, neo-liberal edge – Max Ehrmann’s syrupy, ubiquitous desiderata rewritten by Keith Joseph – the kind of thing your grandmother kept on the wall in her hallway, next to the crying clown, but with an abrasive, Thatcherite gloss. In the original Times ad, the ‘beliefs’ are even printed in a ghastly ‘classical’ typeface – presumably meant to give them some gravity I suppose.
It’s clear – Howard’s days are numbered. We’re going to remember this moment as the beginning of the end – “do you remember when he put out that embarassing page of beliefs and we all laughed like drains?”. This is the kind of slip-up that terminates a political career (Kinnock’s Sheffield election rally, Foot’s duffle coat). There is no light at the end of Howard’s personal tunnel and, no matter what happens in the Euro and local elections, he and his party are still a million miles from another general election victory – and they’re now drifting off into a candy-coloured dream-world where elections aren’t won – they’re gifted by fairies. Trust me. I’m sure about this. Howard’s extended greetings card motto is just confirmation. He’s doomed.