New Forest East



By Gary Ling

Conservative Way Forward Magazine – October 1997

The career and character of Julian Lewis (New Forest East) make him one of the most interesting individuals in the new intake of Conservative members.

Julian's career also provides further evidence of two "evergreens" of politics. First, that a firm set of political principles based on a sensible understanding of the human condition will see most politicians through the most difficult political storms. Second, that the tactics used by the Liberal Left to drive their agenda are so fundamentally flawed that they constitute a soft underbelly vulnerable to principled attack.

In fact, it is impossible to profile Julian Lewis without making reference to the "political storms" that have chronicled his career – from his vital, bloody-minded campaign against CND in the 1980s to his assiduous tracking of media output through the Media Monitoring Unit in the 1990s. Julian's political life is characterised by his wars against sloppy thinking by Lefties of all shapes and sizes. For his victory over CND alone, this country owes the man a debt of gratitude – others have received knighthoods for less!

Quite simply, Julian Lewis has an eye for the flamboyant and a penchant for the unexpected. His [actually, Tony Kerpel's idea for a] 1983 "General Election – Losers' Exit" banner strung out over the heads of CND marchers as they walked down Whitehall was a stroke of political PR genius that predated the predictable Peter Mandelson. "Looking down and watching thousands of appeasers walking under this sign was the highlight of that year," recalls one person present. "I have never seen so many fists shaken at one man!" Mandelson may be cute, with all the resources of a political party behind him, but Lewis has regularly scored in a hostile media with little or no resources at all.

Julian's attention to detail and assiduous pursuit of disconnected bits of information, in order to understand the whole, is legendary. In seeking and winning a seat to fight at the last election, for example, Julian pursued a strategy of homing in on a few seats rather than scattering his CV nation-wide. This practice is risky because of the need to get everything right in just a few constituencies, rather than spread the risk across a wider portfolio.

As one of those who faced him during the selection process in New Forest East said: "Julian knew the New Forest area and people extremely well. This, together with his knowledge of the other candidates, meant that I spent most of the selection process watching for the next Lewis-inspired question! All I can say is: 'Thank goodness he's on our side!' "

On "our side" he most certainly is. Julian's information-gathering skills were put to excellent use against the Left in Kinnock's Labour Party in the 1992 General Election, when he was Deputy Director of the Conservative Research Department. Although it must be said that Julian's unrelenting focus and dedication to the Conservative cause can make him appear arrogant and dismissive, to his friends Julian is known to be both loyal and generous.

Yet, he is a man whose integrity and principled stand can make him a frustrating friend indeed – not least when he sits on the fence when the political choices available don't live up to his ideals. His abstention in the final round of the most recent leadership election is hard for some of his most ardent admirers to forgive.

Nonetheless, if you judge an individual by his enemies, Julian is outstanding. He is constantly under attack from organs within the Liberal establishment and is hated by the Guardian. Evidently, from the way that they have consistently tried to destroy Julian's credibility, these agents of the Left show all the signs of being Dumb and Dumber.

In their constant efforts to do him in, they display not so much a soft underbelly as a bulging stupidity. They just don't seem to realise that Julian actually lives for such confrontations. That he gets up in the morning looking for ways in which he can hoist them by their own petard. Being a Member of Parliament has merely broadened Julian's scope for laying into them, this man will wage war against Socialists – reconstructed or otherwise – until the day he dies.