Rod Liddle isn’t my favourite columnist, but he’s very good on Peter Hain in this week’s Spectator (free registration required):
It is always cheering to encounter a politician who refuses to offer up the easy answer to challenging questions but instead delves beneath the surface and, with candour, delivers himself of an opinion which runs counter to the popularly held belief. So let’s hear it this week for Peter Hain, the agreeably tanned candidate for the post of deputy leader of the Labour party.The question in this particular case was this: why does the British public view politicians, and especially leading members of the current administration, with cynicism and bitterness? The easy, glib answer for Peter would have been: ‘Because of the opportunistic and cynical behaviour of people such as myself.’ That’s certainly the popular view, but it is an analysis which Mr Hain — having given the matter much thought — eschewed. His own answer to this conundrum was beguiling and counter-intuitive: ‘Rory Bremner’, he said.
And Mr Liddle goes on to explain, with detailed analysis, Mr Hain’s all-too-often misunderstood principles:
Principles are much more complex creatures than most people really understand. A principle is still a principle even if it was formed yesterday afternoon just before tea, or shortly after colleagues begin jockeying for position in the deputy leadership race. There is no inconsistency here. Mr Hain did not say how long he stuck by his principles, after all. The important thing with principles, as any idiot should gather, is to stick fervently to them until it is no longer expedient to do so. That, if you like, is the principle behind principles.