This year’s Conservative Party Conference at Blackpool resembled a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous or a gathering of the pre-war Oxford Group, when participants made public confessions of their sins to all their fellow members. Former Ministers queued up to confess to faults of harshness, intolerance, sleaze and all the other political sins. There was one important difference, however, between the confessions of those remorseful ex-Ministers and those of the religious Oxford Groupers. Even the most candid of the new Conservative penitents seldom beat their breasts for having committed actual political sins; they confessed instead to having caused merely a public perception of such enormities. In their view the Conservative Government had been guilty only of the sin of faulty presentation.
Sir Julian Critchley and Morrison Halcrow show in their highly entertaining book, which well describes and accounts for the Conservative debacle, that the Conservative transgressions were not just venial or presentational: they were real and, as it turned out, mortal. Critchley has long been easily the wittiest Conservative politician and