I have been around long enough to know it is unwise to believe everything you read in the the Sunday papers, but the whiff of U-turn in the Tory air has a credible aroma to it.
One word for David Cameron on this … don’t.
If it is true that he is dropping the Bill for the new HS2 high-speed rail link, it will show dreadful weakness, tactical desperation, and a disregard for what the economy actually needs.
If it is true that he is trying to find ways of parking Lords reform and gay marriages, he will enjoy the cheers of the Tory right for a few hours, but then realise there are some very voluble campaigners on the other side of these arguments.
So let me, safe in the knowledge he will ignore it, offer what would be my very genuine advice on all these issues … ask yourself if they are the right things to do for the long-term interests of Britain, and then do them. I think he would then find the decisions quite easy … yes to HS2, yes to gay marriages, yes to Lords reform.
Every Tory leader since Thatcher has been bedevilled by a right-wing that has big characters, big media support, and absolutely terrible ideas for what Britain should be in the 21st century.
In so far as Cameron has actually made any progress, it has been because he has tried to put that wing in its place. If he now starts to pander to it, he is finished, and Britain is left with the globally embarrassing prospect that one of our great political parties ends up led by Boris Johnson who, as someone brilliantly tweeted yesterday, is one pint of cider away from being the village idiot.
It is a measure of how bad a place the Tories are in that Johnson is seen as such a great white hope. As I said yesterday, he did not do as well as he had been hoping to. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing and hearing all these Tory MPs calling on Cameron to hire Lynton Crosby, the Aussie who ran Boris’s campaign. When he did the same job for Michael Howard in 2005, we raised a glass to their dreadful dog-whistle strategy every day.