Sunday, 17 October 2021 Contact us

WELL, WE CERTAINLY WEREN’T SHORT-CHANGED - APRIL 6 - 9.05pm - 2019

Michael Heseltine - Sheldonian - 6.30pm

On the way to this event, I bumped into an old friend on Magdalen Street.
“Where are you going?” she enquired.
“Michael Heseltine’s talking at The Sheldonian” I replied.
“Really?” she replied. “You know, I’d rather boil my own head…”.
Once outside the venue however, it was clear not everyone shared her sentiment. The talk was due to start at 6.30pm but at 5.45pm there was already a long queue. Since this clearly was a much anticipated event, I got my seat early and then watched - and more importantly listened - as the floor and surrounding tiers began to fill up.
The hubbub was significant, and it was easy to sniff out - indeed, the bouquet was overpowering -  that most were there because they smelled blood; not his of course but everybody else’s in and out of government, not only now but before.  And boy did it flow.
Interestingly, considering his rather rocky relationship with Margaret Thatcher, she was one of the few - together with David Cameron perhaps surprisingly - who came out of it rather well. This despite Thatcher’s jarring Bruges speech in September 1988, when she said: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at European level, with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.” A statement memorable for so clinically highlighting the tensions between the Conservative government and our European cousins.
Who did come in for the full force of his ire was Theresa May, but critically not Boris Johnson, at least not savagely. When asked by interviewer Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times (the event was sponsored by FT Weekend) if Johnson had earned a special place in history or a special place in Hell, Heseltine playfully replied: “How do you know they’re not the same?” And perhaps more importantly, when asked if he thought Johnson could be the next Prime Minister, he answered: “Yes”.
A formidable and charismatic speaker, Heseltine earned a huge burst of applause when pressed to answer what would he do if he were now Prime Minister? “I would say that we’re going to have a General Election and campaign to stay in the EU.” Better still, when asked if he thought he would win, he didn’t miss a beat. “Yes” he replied.
In short then, for those who had wanted to see teeth and claw instead of the usual political flimflam, it was Manna from Heaven.

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme MIT Press MIT Press. Sponsors of the programme of American literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner British Academy Festival academic partner Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Marlene Hauser Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Hilda’s College 12th St Hilda's day at the festival St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Owen Mumford Sponsor of programme on science and medicine HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Ironbridge Gorge Museums Foodbuy Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme MIT Press MIT Press. Sponsors of the programme of American literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner British Academy Festival academic partner Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Marlene Hauser Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Hilda’s College 12th St Hilda's day at the festival St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Owen Mumford Sponsor of programme on science and medicine HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Ironbridge Gorge Museums Foodbuy Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd