This will annoy those who occasionally accuse me of being a closet Tory, but I have long been a fan of Malcolm Rifkind. He was the first junior minister I worked to in the FCO when I was on the South Africa desk. Apartheid was in its last throes and we were trying to kill it off. Rifkind was genuinely horrified by apartheid. But South Africa was high on Thatcher’s personal agenda and to say she was uncommitted on apartheid would be kind to her. She insisted, for example, that the ANC was a terrorist organisation. Rifkind worked away beneath her in a way that can only be described as cheekily subversive, under the benign soggy shield of Geoffrey Howe.
Anyway, I have remained a fan of Malcolm Rifkind. He made some of the best speeches on the Iraq War. I debated notionally against him at the Cambridge Union a couple of years ago, but I don’t think either of us disagreed with a word the other said, and we had a very pleasant couple of glasses of champagne together on the train back to London.
He has now made a thoughtful speech on nuclear weapons reduction, bits of which are reproduced in the Telegraph.
If we are to succeed in stopping the ridiculous and massive waste of money and resources on Gordon Brown’s obscene determination to replace and upgrade the Trident missile system, we need to make common cause with the growing number of Tories and senior military men who see the stupidity of it.