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Gavin Williamson’s unusual approach is a welcome change

4 February 2018

8:30 AM

4 February 2018

8:30 AM

So we have to make do with a little touch of Gavin in the night. The new Defence Secretary has an unusual but rather successful technique. A likeable version of Uriah Heep (if that is imaginable), Mr Williamson is ever so ’umble about his intellectual attainments and deferential to those of others, yet ruthless in stealing a march on colleagues and swift in enlisting the media. Having been a loyal Chief Whip (no other sort is the slightest use), he is now an almost insurrectionist minister. His burst of activity has exposed the oddity that, since the 20th century, the Tories have chosen not to make the running on defence. They have taken pro-defence voters for granted and tried, for reasons both of cost and image, to play the subject down. The arrival of Mr Williamson has had the comical effect of forcing generals to stop obsessing about the orderly management of decline and start voicing his big thoughts. Much too early to say whether any real change will take place as a result, but live political rounds are at last being fired.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, which appears in this week’s magazine

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