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The beast in John Bull’s jungle

Michael Portillo alienated all sides in the Tory leadership contest and then made a crass conference speech. Yet he remains a crown prince of the new Tory party. Bruce Anderson wonders whether he ought to be

By Bruce Anderson   January 1996

Michael Gove has written an intriguing book (Michael Portillo: The Future of the Right, Fourth Estate, 1995), though its main proposition is latent rather than explicit: asserted in chapter headings, rather than argued in the text. Michael Portillo enjoys flattery, but even so he ought to be gratified by the appearance of this volume; has any British politician other than a party leader ever been the subject of a biography at such an early age? In this case it is justified.

There is always a problem in writing a book about active politicians: “Events, my dear, events,” in Harold Macmillan’s…

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