Sir Tom Cowie is always great value for journalists. When I was a business hack, I would call him up when reporting the annual results of Cowie Plc, the car company he founded (but, by then, had retired from). He would obligingly denounce its management, thus sprucing up my story. “Sir Tom Cowie attacks Cowie Group” made for a far better headline than “Cowie Profits Up 4%”. Judging by the regularity with which Sir Tom obliged me, he must have quite liked this arrangement. The company got so fed up with this that it actually changed its name to Arriva Plc (they had to spend a fortune making sure it didn’t mean anything rude in another language).
Now Sir Tom has became a Tory donor, and has started to have fun backing and then attacking its leaders: Hague, IDS and Howard and now David Cameron. Now in his mid-80s, he has lost none of his ability to help out journalists on slow news days. But let us not confuse this for a serious Tory donor revolt.
The force field of an opinion poll lead no longer shields Cameron. He’ll have to get used to such attacks from now on.