Those of us familiar with the bear pit of political life knew that it was only a matter of time before the 'socialist fringe' of our press, reverted to type and set about 'bagging' Ministerial 'scalps' in their race to sell their tawdry titles.
'Tory hunting' has a long and ignoble history. As far back as the nineteenth century quite false rumours were circulating with regard to Disraeli's fondness for root vegetables and by the time of the Profumo 'Affair' it had become nigh impossible for a Defence Minister to cavort with naked young 'starlets' in a swimming pool, without some newspaper or other making lewd and insinuating comments.
Sadly of course, 1963 was anything but the high water mark in this cruel and utterly pointless sport. Throughout the eighties and nineties, Tory after Tory was tracked, trapped and polished off. One thinks of poor Jeffrey Archer, whose career was cut so cruelly short when out of no other motive than charity, he lent a young woman, of admittedly dubious pedigree, a large bag of used bank notes. Or of Jonathan Aitken, whose attempt to bring probity and fairness back into public life with the trusty sword of Damocles backfired so spectacularly. Nowadays Mr David Mellor is perhaps better known as a 'wireless presenter' on 'Classical FM'. Once he was talked of as future Welsh Secretary or even a Minister without Portfolio, but, sadly the career of this latter day Pitt was brought crashing to the ground by a mixture of envy, spite and a woman with a Spanish sounding name hiring 'Max' Clifford.
Dr Fox's 'crime' seems to have been nothing more than bumping into his chum on 18 different occasions in some delightful exotic locations, allowing him access to some tiresome high profile meetings with world leaders and employing him to run his superb charity (sadly now barred from its charitable status). Much has been made of Mr Werritty's youth and lack of funds, but rather than delighting in the fact that Dr Fox has been helping a young unemployed acquaintance 'network' the press has hounded the Minister from office.
Having nailed their prey, the cross-hairs are now coming to settle on poor Mr Letwin. Oliver has promised unequivocally to stop dumping state secrets in park litter bins and when a man of his integrity makes such a promise I for one am inclined to believe him.
In short and quite frankly this whole business is a brouhaha of rot. If one were Cornish instead of Conservative one would no doubt be contacting the Race Relations people, but sadly, for the moment at least 'Tory bashing' is not recognised as a crime by the public, the state or even the (despicable) 'Human Rights Act'. Perhaps it is time that changed.