Enough of the buildup, it’s time for Francis Urquhart’s plan to finally fall into place.
Henry Collingridge takes the worst timed after-breakfast walk of his career at the beginning of this section. He left before his secretary was about to give him some pretty bad news. Instead, he finds out from a stranger’s copy of the Chronicle that the disastrous Party poll had been leaked and the general public now knows just how much trouble the Party is in. He knew that his position at the top was in trouble, but now everybody else does too.
Now I couldn’t help but wonder here: If Mattie’s story was rejected…why did the Chronicle post the poll results anyway? Was somebody trying to steal Mattie’s work? Did the editor want to discourage Mattie from looking closer? But why would he publish her information? Did she get a by-line on an article she didn’t even write? Or was there somebody else that got the poll, and for some reason the editor took their story?
One thing that’s really surprising is Collingridge’s response to the new poll becoming public. He does nothing. He could change his speech he was going to give that evening, but he doesn’t think that this crisis is worth changing the speech. That goes about as well as expected.
I have to say, while I like Henry Collingridge as a character, he does seem to be a really weak leader. Would he just decide to plug his ears and ignore other crises until they go away? As we’re about to see, Urquhart is supposed to be a villain. He’s sadistic and manipulative, just not a nice person at all. Every person that wants to take over as Prime Minister is an antagonist of some sort. And yet, I don’t really blame anybody for wanting him out. He seems extremely passive and wishy-washy. He fails to take simple steps to at least acknowledge the crisis around him.
Still, that’s nothing compared to the next thing that Collingridge has to face. Remember when Urquhart made some shady investments in Charles Collingridge’s name? Well, it looks like that’s becoming public too. Now Henry has to juggle not only his failing polls but also the accusations that he helped his brother engage in insider trading. Charles can’t even deny the accusations for certain since it’s possible that he was blackout drunk and can’t remember it. This isn’t something that Henry can ignore, though no matter what he does, it may be too late to save his career.