Simon Heffer for Chelmsford

He actually has a world view…He actually believes things, and he believes them with a volcanic sincerity

..a withering reproach to all the temporising anaemic difference-splitters of this Parliament.

We want the Heff, as we affectionately call him, and we want him now.

David Cameron is said to have received 1,000 letters from assorted headcases who believe they are an undiscovered talent, the Susan Boyles of the next Parliament. And yet of all the names that have so far emerged, there is only one that has really made me sit up. I speak for millions of Daily Telegraph readers when I say that last week my heart leapt for joy when I saw that at last Simon Heffer is poised to allow his name to go forward.

I pounded the table so hard the crockery rattled. I emitted a strangled cry of relief – the kind of noise they must have made in Mafeking when they realised the siege was about to be lifted, and my being was flooded with that sense of ineffable calm that is said to have descended on Churchill when he heard that, after agonising years of prevarication, America had entered the war on our side.

Politics may be in crisis. Parliament may be discredited. The very letters MP now seem to stand for nothing but a bunch of Mercenary Plunderers. But with Heffer poised to enter Parliament, and with the ample Hefferian trouserings set to polish the leather of the green benches, I had a sudden sense that everything was going to be all right.

It is true that the news filled me with such elation that my vision was temporarily clouded, and I may not have read the fine print of the article. But I received the distinct impression that he had set his sights on an Essex seat; and since Heffer invented the very phrase and concept of “Essex Man”, and since he is already known as the “Sage of Chelmsford”, it struck me that he must be a shoo-in.

[Simon Heffer] actually believes things, and he believes them with a volcanic sincerity. And it is not all just Ayn Rand and Wagner and the Triumph of the Will. He knows a surprising amount about healthcare economics. Conversation with Heffer rapidly takes you down little-used byways, such as Ealing comedies and English composers, and whatever you think of his tastes you cannot deny that he has tastes. He has preferences, and he is willing to set them out with great linguistic violence.

Imagine the thrill of watching a debate in the Commons, and all the Buggins’-turn merchants making their predictable contributions; and then imagine the look on their faces as Heffer rises to satirise the proceedings – irascible, implacable and, above all, independent.  [….]

[The full article can be seen as first printed in the Daily Telegraph on 01 June 2009]

18 thoughts on “Simon Heffer for Chelmsford”

  1. Boris’s articles always surprise me, because I wouldn’t have thought Simon Heffer was a good idea as an MP at all. If he is Boris’s friend, well, I better try to be tactful, but I always thought of Mr. Heffer as one of those Colonel Blimp type people, endlessly erupting like Vesuvius.

    If I were forced to make a straight choice between Simon Heffer and the famous, Playboy mansion guy Hugh Hefner, for my MP, I would choose Hugh, because I just don’t like acidic journalists, endlessly sticking it to their fellow men without a good word to say, and Hugh Hefner is entirely amiable.

    We do, as Boris says, need independent rebel MPs who vote from the heart, but does that mean miserable SOBs who slag off absolutely everyone and everything? Boris’s forte as a politician is his geniality and huge enthusiasm, his generous judgments. He is fiercely honest, but tolerant of the mistakes of others and I can’t remember him ever saying a nasty thing. Journalists like Mr. Heffer are like scourges and cat o’nine tails. They lash the frailties of others with their tongues and pens, peevishly looking down on us from their Olympic superiority, but there is no charity in their hearts, no compassion.

    The Times ran an article on Harold Macmilllan recently (new book out by Charles Williams) and the article said

    “He (Macmillan) came to realise that politics is not just a difficult trade, but that that is only for those who have the will – and who are sufficiently self centred – to surf the waves of hostility they will encounter”.

    Exactly! When Boris Johnson was running for London Mayor, Simon Heffer wrote the most horrible article about him….. well I thought it was horrible. His main criticisms were that Boris was ferociously ambitious, so what, good! that Boris would let others do the hard work, he would be just a front man, (so not true, and Tim Parker is no longer at City Hall) that he was too charming,(hardly a crime), used others to support his ambitions, (doesn’t everyone, and at least he tells people he is doing that) – it was all rubbish and disproved by the way the Mayor has fulfilled his Mayoral role since. And here is Boris writing a whimsical, only slightly sarky affectionate piece! Water off a duck’s back obviously, so the Mayor can certainly surf the waves.

    MPs have to be good communicators. Simon Heffer is a good writer, but awful on t.v. Not all journalists are bad on t.v. Peter Oborne is really good, particularly when he is mad, but his anger comes across as righteous indignation, rather than a peevish strop.

    We need more independent individuals to be MPs, people not easily cowed, people with the guts to stand up to anyone for the sake of what they believe to be right. Simon Heffer, I am sure, has this courage, the last thing he would do under pressure is fold, but surely politicians should also persuade and inspire? That charm and enthusiasm and reluctance to hurt others that Boris has in abundance is what makes him a hugely popular and successful Mayor.

    They say the camera never lies, under the t.v. lens people are revealed for what they truly are, and far from being inspirational and uplifting, on t.v. Mr. Heffer is revealed as a critical success but an utterly depressing experience.

  2. A lot of the people wanting to stand as independents sound like wackos. David Van Day of Dollar! Esther Rantzen! Sounds like two ego trips for a start.

    Simon Heffer might be an entertaining journalist, but aren’t his views a little extreme for an MP? Didn’t he upset a lot of people writing about Princess Diana? Also, I thought he wrote the article on Liverpool, and then left his editor, Boris Johnson to carry the can. Grossly insensitive and craven. Not a very appealing combination.

  3. I agree, Simon Heffer is a miserable git, as an MP he would have an empty surgery. Boris’s geniality is one of his best assets, and the way he surfs any hostility with impeturbable good humour always makes me smile.

  4. For a moment, I thought Boris meant The Hoff! You know, David Hasselhoff, ex Baywatch, America has Talent and Knight Rider! I thought “The Hoff is going to be an MP….”

  5. Changing subject slightly, I can’t abide Harriet Harman’s politics, but it was gutsy of her to face Jeremy Paxman last night. Harriet has jumped in and fielded for Labour recently in many expenses interviews.

    Also, she has been taking fashion advice. She was wearing a lovely bronze fitted jacket in the interview, hair and makeup perfect. Like her or loathe her, She’s got brash man! I’ll give her that!

  6. Andriana

    >Simon Heffer might be an entertaining journalist, but aren’t his views a little extreme for an MP?

    Isn’t that better than anodyne MPs who always toe the line?

  7. Simon Heffer would certainly stir things up but it would be like applying a stomach pump, when all that is needed is a dose of Enos Fruit Salts.

  8. Goodness me. Boris lays on sarcasm and irony four inches thick and you still think he’s seriously advocating Heffer becoming an MP. Try googling the article Heffer wrote attacking Boris’ competence to become Mayor of London.

  9. So the Mayor of London is endorsing as an MP asomebody who believes that Britain should withdraw from the European Union?

    Such people are banned from the Mayor’s own Party front bench!

  10. Judy, gentle irony I would say. We did get that! But as you point out, that article Heffer wrote was awful, and this is a very humorous, affectionate rejoinder. Screamingly funny, hardly unkind is it?

  11. re: Catherine’s comments

    “Is this article an example of praeteritio?”

    I looked up the word (thank you) and it made me laugh

    spot on

  12. …if you can succeed in Renewing Britain you can lead the way to renewing a world sick to death of PC nanny state authoritarianism.

    Remember the example of Thatcher and Reagan…from NZ, in hopeful expectation…

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