7 MARCH 1992, Page 23


Norman Lamont must run for his life or be turned into dog food

CHRISTOPHER 1-, II DES Ican now forecast with confidence what will happen at 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday of next week. At the principal meeting of the day, Morley Street will head a strong field under starter's orders for the Champion Hurdle. Meanwhile at a gaff track of lower class, Norman Lamont will be under Deputy Speaker's orders and sweating up. In his Budget speech last year he compared him- self to Desert Orchid. Since then that great hero has taken a fall and moved into hon- oured retirement, with a well-paid second career, opening supermarkets. No such luck for Mr Lamont. He must know that he is running for his life. If, on Tuesday, he falls, he will have booked himself a one-way ticket to the pet-food canneries at Melton Mowbray. His party, with the pack instinct which is one of its nastiest qualities, will see to that. It needs someone to stand by for the blame if things go wrong on 9 April or whenever. True, he did not take us into the European exchange rate mechanism and get our interest rates stuck, he did not say that if it wasn't hurting it wasn't working — but never mind, he'll do. How, then, is he to escape the dogs and the tin-opener? It was evident when he and his advisers had their midwinter meeting at Chevening that this would not be so much a budget, more a manifesto. (Good horse, Manifesto — win- ner of the Grand National in 1897 and 1899.) So he can write post-dated cheques on a fourth-term Conservative government, and pledge it to reform the taxation of everything from savings to Lloyd's. That kind of cheque I am happy to endorse.