This week's edition to our Olympia Extracts is a legal thriller called, The Banqueting Club by George Fairbrother. 






Autumn 1992




“Are you ready?”

“No more so than usual, but, as you constantly remind me, an agreement is an agreement is an agreement. Carry on with the inquisition.”

“Sorry, what I should have asked is, are you ready, My Lord?”

“Enough of that. Just get on with it.”

“Right, bonny lad. Give me a minute, this old cassette recorder sometimes has a little trouble getting going.”

“I know how it feels.”

“You have to press play and record at exactly the same time otherwise it… Is the tape going round, can you see? There should be a little red light, is it on? I think it is. Right. Now, just for one last time, I’d like to start by going over the weeks leading up to the ’83 Party Conference.”

“Again? Well, if we must.”

“As Chief Whip, you were widely praised for your part in the massive landslide election win that summer. Everyone expected you to be appointed Party Chairman, but, in a chain of events that caught everyone by surprise, you were suddenly announced as the new Home Secretary instead, and old Dickie Billings, despite being long past retirement age, was shunted out of Environment to become the new Chief Whip and Party Chairman.”

“How many times have we been over this? Sir Dick Billings was an inspired choice for both of those key roles. As you know, he was one of the best tactical campaigners in the country, our longest serving and most experienced MP, and someone who was not afraid to assert his authority as and when required. Don’t forget, I’d been Home Secretary under Douglas-Home, so I hardly think I was the least likely candidate once that position fell vacant. And, for that matter, I don’t see what Dick’s age had to do with anything. On that logic, both of us should’ve been pensioned off years ago.”

“The Police Commissioner also resigned around the same time, not to mention the Northern Ireland Secretary. An awful lot of ill health about, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes, well, all part of the rich tapestry of political life.”

“All too convenient if you ask me. I have a theory.”

“Really? You do surprise me!”

“As we now know, extensive planning was underway, in secret, during the autumn and winter of ’83, for the showdown with the miners. Remember, we discussed it at the time? I’d been tipped off about coal stockpiling and planned pit closures.”

“I remember. Leaks were an ongoing frustration. Mr Scargill wasn’t the only enemy within.”




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