Like Iain Dale I thought last night's BBC4 documentary by Michael Portillo on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher was a riveting watch. The degree of self-awareness displayed by Portillo, Michael Howard and William Hague in particular as they picked over the bones of the Tories' wilderness years was fascinating.
Portillo seemed to have been very affected by the fact that his defeat in Enfield Southgate was voted the 3rd most popular TV moment ever. Was this, I wonder, when he began to lose his appetite for leadership, and ultimately for politics in general? If so I can't really blame him - we all want to be loved after all - and he's clearly more at home in front of the cameras.
Hague once again admitted that he should not have contested the leadership in 1997 and waited until 2001 instead, something that was pointed out to him at the time by yours truly along with a number of others. It was a great tragedy for the Tories that Ken Clarke was not leader in that Parliament. He would have taken the shine off Tony Blair in no time.
Howard's admission that he knew the party had to modernise, but that he knew he was the wrong person to modernise it, was the most intriguing of all. Howard is a smart guy, but surely he would have had the self-knowledge to realise BEFORE 2003 that he was personally ill-equipped for the task of modernisation - in which case you wonder why he took on the leadership at all?
The point of the programme was to examine the continuing legacy of Margaret Thatcher to the Tories. In crude terms, it was to help destroy the premiership of John Major, then ensure that the party elected the wrong leaders in both 1997 and 2001, thereby condemning them to their two heaviest defeats in recent history.
Despite all she achieved for her party as Prime Minister, this baleful contribution after leaving office always has to be weighed in the balance.