Master stroke

April 4, 1997

Alumnus to be proud of No 96 appears to have broken two of the basic rules of political life - first, that whatever you do you should do it in private and away from your constituency and second, that you should get your timing right.

The hapless Piers Merchant, Conservative MP for Beckenham, had his indiscretions plastered all over the tabloids immediately before the Easter break from campaigning, meaning that it stayed top of news agendas far longer than would otherwise have been the case.

Hopefully Mr Merchant's masters-level education in political philosophy at Durham University, following on from a law and politics degree at the same place, provided him with some means of analysing what was happening to him.

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