This article is from the January issue of Total Politics
When I asked Eric Forth, the MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, to be my mentor, he rapidly became not only my closest friend in Parliament but also my political hero.
Eric was an expert in parliamentary procedure. He taught me the importance of spending time in the chamber and the members’ tearoom (he said the only important work he ever did took place there), and roped me into talking out private members’ bills (or “regulatory bo*****s”, as he called them) on Fridays in Parliament.
He was a brilliant orator, but always interesting to listen to. In the chamber, he was the master of the sedentary intervention, and once famously put Menzies Campbell off his stride at PMQs when he shouted “Declare your interest” when Campbell raised the issue of pensions.
Eric was a thorn in the side of the leader of the day, and famously asked David Cameron at a parliamentary party meeting: “I believe in low taxes, big business and grammar schools – am I still a Conservative?”
One of my favourite Eric moments was when he stopped Oliver Letwin to ask if he could submit a paper he had written, to be considered as part of the party’s policy review under Cameron. When a clearly delighted Letwin replied, “Yes, of course, what is it about?”, Eric replied: “It’s titled ‘Why Global Warming is Bo*****s’.”
I miss Eric immensely, and threw myself into helping Christopher Chope MP talk out unnecessary private members’ bills on a Friday as my tribute. The No Turning Back group, of which Eric was a stalwart member, was given a stock of his flamboyant ties by his widow Carroll, and set up the annual Eric Forth Memorial Award for the MP who had done most to carry on Eric’s work. Winning the first award was one of the most special moments of my time in Parliament.
Philip Davies is the Conservative MP for Shipley