In 1997 Michael Neubert, Romford’s MP, had a job for life,* until he was hit by a shift in the tectonic plates of politics. Tony Blair’s charisma, John Major’s haplessness and Sir James Goldsmith’s Referendum party** finished his political career. Goldsmith’s party destroyed Neubert much to the delight of the young Andrew (see table one). Neubert’s political demise freed up Romford for Andrew. Sure enough in 2001 normal service was resumed and he’s been MP ever since.
Like all MPs, Andrew believes he’s loved. In all due fairness, he’s got better claims than most and definitely ranks above Neubert. Being loved isn’t, however, enough in politics.
Andrew’s 2019 tectonic shift is Boris ‘Genius’ Johnson and Nigel Farage’s bombastic simplicities. Johnson’s pre-election strategy appears to be to split the Conservative party. His negative charisma is such that he’s united the warring opposition in parliament into a coherent force, which given his minority government is a disaster. Farage has some very good lines provided you don’t analyse them too much. Andrew’s in peril but isn’t doomed.
Neubert faced a well-known and experienced campaigner unlike Andrew. Andrew is very well-known with a supportive Conservative council. He’s in peril because of Brexit. This was demonstrated in the 2019 Euro elections (see table two). Rock solid Conservative Havering was crushed into 4th place and Andrew’s ‘Genius’ leader has just added to the chaos.
Table One: Romford Election 1997
Table Two: Euro Election 2019
Meanwhile Damian White is licking his lips and wondering if 1997 will be repeated.
* Young Conservatives referred to MPs like Neubert as ‘bed-blockers’ a peculiarly offensive epithet expressing their right-wing arrogance.
** Their radical programme stated they wanted to stay in the free market but not be involved in the political side of the EU. This was revolutionary stuff in 1997