Malcolm Rifkind mugged me

Observations on Tories

When Sir Malcolm Rifkind dropped out of the Conservative leadership contest recently I smiled a smile of relief and satisfaction. It's not that I particularly dislike the man's politics; as it happens, I dislike most Tory politics. It's just that I made a small contribution to his campaign, and because I did so unwittingly and against all my instincts, I was keen for that campaign to fail. You see, Malcolm Rifkind mugged me.

It happened, unlike most muggings, in pleasant surroundings. My partner lives in a grand square in Notting Hill, in Rifkind's London constituency, and every year the square stages a garden party for the locals. Since she has no time for such things I thought I would go along in her place, sample the free booze and food and size up the neighbours. I had heard a rumour that Rifkind would show up, and was curious to see him, too.

It wasn't exactly my kind of crowd. I am a DJ by trade, and black, and this turned out to be a largely white, mostly older and very Tory gathering. Not much demand for my views about the house music scene. So I was standing alone chomping on a canape when I became aware of a figure bearing down on me, beaming from ear to ear with hand thrust out. It was none other than the Rt Hon Sir Malcolm, and he was clearly determined to talk to moi.

I was still swallowing the vol-au-vent when I spotted the camera crew behind him and the lens poking over his shoulder, aimed at my face. What do I do, I asked myself urgently. Do I rant at him about how I remember the Eighties and they were very bad for me? Do I scream, like that crazy Norwegian commentator: "Margaret Thatcher, can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating"? No, I engaged in the small talk as best I could, struggling not to be tongue-tied, and a couple of bland moments later was free to have a stiff drink.

I thought no more of it until a few weeks later, when friends and acquaintances began asking why I was helping to advertise the inclusiveness of the Tory party. That camera, it turned out, had been filming for Newsnight, and my prominence in the broadcast item seemed to shout: "Hey! We Tories talk to black people. Look at this guy. He's hanging out with our Malcolm. Now vote for us!"

Only some of my friends were kind. Others started calling me Mr Blue. I rang Rifkind's office to say that I would never have spoken to him if I had known it would be exploited in this way. They didn't see my point: the camera saw what it saw, they said, and they didn't need my consent to put me on TV. I had been mugged by Malcolm Rifkind and there was nothing I could do about it. Now you might see why his leadership failure pleased me.