Eric Pickles walks through the corridors of Westminster with "the stately waddle of an out of condition sumo wrestler". So writes Conservative Home's Paul Goodman in the Daily Telegraph today, but despite that glorious description, Goodman's piece is actually a paean of praise to the blunt speaking Communities Secretary. Goodman claims he has delivered more obvious change than other, more 'star quality' members of the Coalition. Actually, though, Goodman is making a rather different point. This former Tory MP, who started out as a student 'wet' only to re-emerge in Westminster as a firm rightist, is really using his article about Pickles to launch a few sidewinders at the Cameron Coalition.
In commenting that Pickles is not one of the wine bar drinking inner circle, Goodman is having a go at the perceived elitism, or cliquiness, of the Cameron team. In praising Pickles for ditching a whole raft of Communities legislation, and slashing departmental expenditure, Goodman is attacking the Cameron government for its slowness in pursuing proper Conservative reform. Goodman is a thoughtful man, and an unadulterated rightist, and he has no great love for the Coalition, along with pretty well every other writer and editor on Con Home. For Eric Pickles to become his pin-up man, things must be bad!