Now I fear I must turn my attention to the sorry state of my own party, a great institution that I forged from progressive Whigs and Tories and the rising movement of radicals, all inspired by the legacy of freedom envisioned by Wycliffe, Cromwell and the authors of the Glorious Revolution.
Its leader was I understand a man a little older than I was at the time I started my first ministry when I was in my 59th year. At the time I had already passed the average age at death of the ordinary Briton but this was no barrier to advancement. Mr Campbell I believe had many years to come before he reached such an age for now it is the case that, thanks to prosperity and advances in medicine, males can hope to reach their 80th year. For his crime of being at the age of great statesmanship, Mr Campbell I hear was pilloried by low hacks of the printed press and betrayed by his own colleagues.
O tempora, o mores.
To hear the party has barely 60 MPs is grievous indeed although I gather this is regarded as some sort of achievement. Indeed there seem to have been occasions when it was on the verge of extinction. It is no wonder that the flame of liberty burns so low in this country. I can only recall that 60 is a very uncomfortable number to have within a party, too small to govern or aspire to govern or even to spawn great leaders, too large to lead. This was certainly the experience of our Irish allies, who also experienced frequent problems of leadership.
There are I understand two pretenders for the office once occupied by Mr Campbell. I shall be studying their utterances in the hope of hearing elegant exposition of the place of liberty and morality in this God-forsaken century.
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