The corridors of power…

His home near Newbury is a Georgian pile with pheasants and geese roaming the manicured lawns. Derelict farm buildings have been converted into workshops which make handmade wooden furniture for venues ranging from the Conran restaurants to Swiss Re’s ‘erotic gherkin’ skyscraper.

Sir Terence is an example of a powerful New Labour supporter who has become disenchanted with Tony Blair’s government. He was outraged by topup fees, and even more incensed about going to war in Iraq on a false premise. If we went to the polls tomorrow, he would find it hard to vote Labour.

As he put it: ‘It’s very difficult for me and a lot of people like me, who were enthusiasts for New Labour in its early days, to find so many fundamental mistakes being made by them. Labour was so dynamic when it won power and it just seems to have dissipated and become… the Tory government.’

Listening to him, it struck me that the government can ill-afford to alienate its former cheerleaders. Sir Terence appeared in television commercials endorsing New Labour and fronted a list of 58 businessmen singing Labour’s praises in a letter to The Times ahead of the 2001 election.

Mind you, the list did include Lord Simpson of Dunkeld, who did such a masterful job on Marconi.

Perhaps apocryphally, while Sir Terence was talking, the room was plunged into darkness. It emerged that a pheasant had flown into the electricity cables. Ever the gourmet, he quipped that the bird would be ready-cooked for supper.

Blair, too, might find that his goose has been cooked.

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