Margaret Thatcher returns to 10 Downing Street
Unless an image of the likeness captures something of the spirit, and that spirit casts a presence of perpetual influence and greatness.
But what is this greatness? Why has Margaret Thatcher been granted honours during in her lifetime which her predecessors have attained only years and usually decades after their death?
She is the only former prime minister to be immortalised in bronze in the Palace of Westminster while still living. And now her portrait hangs in Number 10, alongside those of David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.
And she has been placed there by a Labour prime minister, who personally commissioned the portrait. Gordon Brown thanked the Great Lady for ‘the contribution she has made to the country over many years’.
Tony Blair was premier for as long as Margaret Thatcher; he had a comparable (if not greater) transformative effect on his own party, and his period in office has undoubtedly transformed the culture of the United Kingdom. ‘Cool Britannia’ is his legacy: a utopian fusion of constitutional revolution, ‘third way’ conversion, mutually-destructive equalities and ever-competing multiculturalism. He, too, was a war-time leader, and arguably the ‘just war’ in Iraq was of far greater geo-political importance than the liberation of a few godforsaken rocks in the South Atlantic.
Yet no-one is pleading the cause of Tony Blair to be immortalised in bronze or preserved on canvass.
And it is highly unlikely that he will be accorded either honour even a century after his death.
Is it that true political greatness lies in sincerity and conviction? And is it that Tony Blair possesses neither, or, at least, is it that his chameleon variety, his mercurial shiftiness, his all-things-to-all-people capacity, his spiritual conversion and his political mutability all conspire to give the impression that there is nothing constant about him, nothing secure, nothing stable, dependable or resolute?
Is it that the house of Tony Blair was built on sand while Margaret Thatcher constructed hers upon a rock?
Cranmer is persuaded that Conservative Way Forward and The Thatcher Foundation will outlast The Tony Blair Faith Foundation by centuries. And he is further persuaded that Tony Blair will never be cast in bronze or find his portrait hanging in the state rooms of Number 10.
Unless, of course, the Red Tory persuades the next Conservative prime minister to commission such a work – just to thank Mr Blair for 'the contribution he has made to the country over many years'.