New Statesman – Snobbery unbound
He saw himself as a loyal Thatcherite but only as long as Thatcherism never became so radical as to upset the privileges of the establishment that he loved to feed and water. He always denied being a Conservative, in deference to his socialist past; but he ended his days as a maverick High Tory of an increasingly reactionary bent. Probably something to do with the company he kept.
Not that Wyatt’s views mattered much; even Murdoch saw that. When he leaned on me to serialise Wyatt’s memoirs, I kicked off with his courageous efforts to block the disastrous nationalisation of steel by Harold Wilson’s 1964-66 government, which I regarded as Wyatt’s greatest claim to minor fame. Murdoch called to complain. I had made the mistake of taking Woodrow seriously: “Just run the gossipy bits,” he advised. “Leave out the politics; nobody’s interested in what Woodrow thinks.”
Thatcher seems to have shared this view. Though she talked to him weekly and listened to what he had to say, the diaries do not reveal a single issue on which his influence was decisive. He constantly reassured her, however, that the poll tax “really is the best answer”, thereby unwittingly contributing to his heroine’s demise.
But the great and the good knew he had her ear (and Murdoch’s), so they flocked to his dinner table for favours. In the diaries, Lord Weinstock, the perpetually gloomy boss of GEC, constantly asks him to put in a good word for him at 10 Downing Street to secure even more contracts at the taxpayers’ expense (and to get Murdoch to lean on me to stop the Sunday Times exposing his company’s inadequacies). Roy Jenkins uses Wyatt to lobby discreetly for a peerage.