Conservative Diary

Light relief

10 Oct 2012 07:53:27

Vote for the Conservative Clean Up Team!

By Tim Montgomerie
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One of the themes of Conservative Conference has Boris Johnson being 'on message' - pouring praise on David Cameron's head and the wider government. He was loyal at ConHome's Monday night rally and in yesterday's main stage speech. Again and again he turned his fire on Labour and the party activists loved him all the more for doing so. It will be a huge advantage for the party if this biggest of Tory beasts lines up alongside Team Cameron at the next election and helps take the fight to Labour.

Here's a little poster to mark his speech to Conference yesterday; he was responding to the PM's likening of him to a blond mop...

"If I am a mop, David, you are a broom - a broom that is cleaning up the mess left by the Labour government. I congratulate you and your colleagues George Osborne the dustpan, Michael Gove the J-cloth, William Hague the sponge. It is the historic function of Conservative governments over the last 100 years to be the household implements on the floor of the house, so effective at clearing up after the Labour binge has got out of control."I congratulate you and your colleagues George Osborne the dustpan, Michael Gove the J-cloth, William Hague the sponge. It is the historic function of Conservative governments over the last 100 years to be the household implements on the floor of the house, so effective at clearing up after the Labour binge has got out of control."

Cleaning labour mess4

9 Oct 2012 06:54:43

William Shakespeare reports Boris's speech to yesterday's ConHome rally

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-10-08 at 23.59.11"Casca; tell us what hath chanced to-day."  (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

"The Mayor of London blew into its conference in Birmingham, a hurricane of blond hair, media attention and other people’s speculation about his prospects of one day taking David Cameron’s job." (James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph)

 "Why, there was a crown offered him: and being offered him, he put it by with the back of his hand, thus; and then the people fell a-shouting...he put it by once: but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it."

 "His reception – in a city not noted for its Tory support – was more suited to a rock star than a politician, with crowds of passengers chanting his name at New Street station."

Continue reading "William Shakespeare reports Boris's speech to yesterday's ConHome rally" »

3 Oct 2012 06:09:00

Benjamin Disraeli: Miliband leads the No Nation party, not the One Nation party

By Benjamin Disraeli
You cannot follow Lord Beaconsfield on Twitter, since he hasn't a clue what it is.

Screen shot 2012-10-02 at 17.28.55I cannot deny that my grasp of public affairs is not as sure as it might be since, for reasons that readers of this publication will understand, I am presently incapable of taking my seat in the House of Lords.  I must also confess that my mastery of the means of communication on which this modern age depends is, alas, incomplete (the mysteries of the telegraph remain a wonder to me).   None the less, Mary Anne, being returned yesterday afternoon to Hughenden from her duties, has read to me a transcript of the speech of the Labour Party leader to his conference, and I am dictating this article to her by way of response.

I wish to make it clear at the outset that I am by no means ill-disposed to Edward Miliband.  As I say, my grasp of present events is a little tentative, but I understand from Mary Anne that my party is now in coalition with Mr Gladstone.  Readers will comprehend that I find this deeply disturbing, and I see from the opinion polls that my view is widely shared: as I once said, England does not love coalitions.  So I am prepared to give Mr Miliband a fair hearing.  As I once told the Commons, the cause of labour is the cause of England.  This is why the Conservative Party is - or should be - the party of labour, as well as the party of capital.

Continue reading "Benjamin Disraeli: Miliband leads the No Nation party, not the One Nation party" »

16 Sep 2012 18:27:40

Ideas, please, for UKIP's next logo

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2012-09-16 at 18.25.59The Telegraph is reporting that UKIP is ditching its pound sign logo. Nigel Farage tells journalist Christopher Hope that Britain's currency is now safe and it is no longer such a potent emblem for his party:

“Our pound sign has been a fantastically simple image. But now it is in my opinion represents a battle honour and not a forward looking aspiration for a party that wants to represent an independent UK.”

It's also changing its name from the UK Independence Party to simply UKIP. Don't understand that one.

In the past UKIP considered, if my memory serves me correctly, changing its logo to a butterfly. What do we suggest should best capture UKIP's identity? A torch of liberty for its libertarian and Thatcherite wing or perhaps a drawbridge for the elements within the party that want the rest of the world to go away?

My naughty suggestion would be a backdoor to signify the route by which pro-EU Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs get elected when UKIP divides the Eurosceptic and centre right vote.

What would readers suggest?

10 Sep 2012 06:19:55

J Alfred Prufrock MP tears up a PRU letter

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-09-08 at 13.04.37J.Alfred Prufrock MP (Grummidge West) opened the next e-mail in his inbox.  It read as follows:

"Hey Prufrock, you old f**kbag! What are you up to while reading this, eh? Fiddling your expenses or knocking back champagne in some subsidised bar, I suppose. Well, listen to me, b*****d. What I want to know is why yet AGAIN I have to pay above the odds for my rail ticket.  I mean, do you have any idea how your constituents live? How can you defend the cost of my daily commute to Shakespeare Lacey rocketing by almost 15%? And btw tell Cameron to get his finger out of his a**e! Yrs Sergeant Fury

Prufrock pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose, and studied this message for perhaps five minutes, as if probing it for some hidden meaning.  He might have been an archaeologist poring over a fragment of Etruscan pottery.  Finally, he sighed deeply, left his inbox, opened a file marked "PRU letters", searched for "rail fares", and got the relevant letter up on-screen.

Continue reading "J Alfred Prufrock MP tears up a PRU letter" »

9 Sep 2012 11:52:23

'Another Tory assault on the poor'

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2012-09-09 at 11.48.43

Fortunately Tony Baldry emerged from the incident unharmed but covered, The Metro reports, in blue toilet paper. You really couldn't make it up.

25 Aug 2012 07:13:50

Captions please


Today's Guardian frontpage.

19 Jul 2012 07:18:51

Boris IS Batman, Caped Conservative

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-07-19 at 06.24.49Tim Montgomerie gave star billing in our newslinks yesterday to Robert Colvile's praise for Batman as capitalist hero.  Batman, he wrote, is "a Caped Conservative" - a truth exposed by Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises", the premiere of which took place last night.  Batman, wrote Mr Colvile, is "secretly, wonderfully Right-wing...the plutocrats’ champion, forced to defend his city".  Furthermore, Batman "is all about cool. Or rather, a child’s idea of cool: the man with the most money and the biggest house and the best hide-out and the fastest car, chased by the prettiest girls".

It follows that Mr Colvile will have started a rush to identify the Government's very own Bruce Wayne, foiling Labour's spoilers and wreckers. (Stills from the film clearly identify its villian, Bane, as Liam Byrne).  Such a quest under present conditions will bring nothing but disappointment.  David Cameron and George Osborne aren't short of money or houses, but they don't seem to be winning at the moment.  Michael Gove is probably the Government's most effective Minister, but the Education Secretary is not associated with big houses and fast cars.

The most suitable candidate is clearly Boris Johnson, who has a bit of record with cars.  Admittedly, Boris is not a billionaire, but there must be money in those Telegraph columns and TV series and books about Rome.  The rest of the description seems to fit, more or less.  He also runs a city and has seen off the Joker in the form of Labour's mayoral candidate in two successive elections.  Our hero is perhaps a bit plump for the part and there will be problems with the mask and the hair.  But Boris it is.  I hope you enjoy Carla Millar's illustration above.

P.S: Sir Edward Lister is Alfred.

12 Jul 2012 07:29:01

That Cameron-Jesse Norman clash. What really happened. Role of Prufrock revealed.

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-07-12 at 07.23.18"You see, Albert," said Stephen Crabb, Whip to J.Alfred Prufrock, MP for the marginal West Midlands seat of Grummidge West, ""we have to ask ourselves: how can we best help the Prime Minister?  And let's face it, the best way we can do so is by voting for Second Reading.  Because, let's be honest: this bill has a future.  All that voting against Second Reading will do is to record a futile protest, delighting Labour and damaging party unity.  So you see: it's in all our interests for the bill to pass.  Or to put it more plainly, David Cameron wants you to vote for the bill. I'm sure you get the point."  And with that, Crabb reached out, tugged Prufrock's right-hand shirt cuff with his own right hand, winked, and sauntered off into the "Aye" lobby.

Prufrock turned, and found himself, as chance would have it, facing Priti Patel.  "You see, Priti," he said, "we have to ask ourselves: how can we best help the Prime Minister?  And let's face it, the best way we can do so is by voting for Second Reading.  Because -"

"- Excuse me," Patel cut in, staring at Prufrock with a curious detachment, as if from an infinite distance.  "But...Do I know you?"  And as Prufrock bowed his head in embarrassment and raised it again, he found himself gazing instead, as if by some act of cinematic magic, upon the masterfully-drawn mouth, visionary gaze, noble countenance and domed philosopher's forehead, as majestic as the dome of St Peter's or St Paul's Cathedral, of Jesse Norman.

Continue reading "That Cameron-Jesse Norman clash. What really happened. Role of Prufrock revealed." »

5 Jul 2012 07:14:01

Caroline Spelman, Rain Goddess

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-06-18 at 10.14.07Caroline Spelman failed to sell off or lease large parts of England's forests - as her acceptance yesterday of the Independent Panel on Forestry's report into their future reminded us.

But in another sense she has been a triumphant success - at least, if the example set by one of her predecessors and imitated by her is anything to go by.

Denis Howell was an obscure former Birmingham councillor and second-rank Labour MP when he was made Minister for Rain during the year that saw the the hottest summer average temperature in Britain since records began.

An obituary records: "His appointment coincided with the advent of heavy rainfall so that within 10 days of Harold Wilson giving him the job, he became known as Minister for Floods". Ms Spelman has been following in his footsteps.  She called a "Drought Summit" at DEFRA in February.  After that, things began to happen so thick and fast that it is hard to keep up:

  • February 20: Ms Spelman warns that: "We are facing a severe water shortage...more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall."  She confirms a drought order for the south-east, warned of impending hosepipe bans, and returns to her office to implement Action This Day.
  • February 20-29: Rain begins immediately. The Met Office describes "frontal systems which mainly brought rain or showers to northern and, to some extent, western areas. The 20th, in particular, was wet across the north-west with over 40 mm in the north Pennines and 55 mm at Alston (Cumbria)."  However, the challenge remains, especially in the south-east: "Only 13 Februaries have been drier in the past century".
  • "Figures for 1 - 25 April show the month so far has seen well above average rainfall across the UK, with 97 mm of rain recorded," declares the Met Office, adding that "in the south, this month is one of only three in the last two years which has seen significantly above average rainfall."  The BBC adds to the provisional figures by declaring that "2012 had [the] wettest April for 100 years".  Triumph for Ms Spelman.
  • May 1-15: "Rainfall was running at 79% of the average too, well ahead for just halfway through the month...This tells the story of a wet, gloomy and cold 15 days."  Then comes disaster, according to the Met Office: "a run of dry and fine weather, with some remarkably high temperatures".  But the previous month's rainfall hands the Environment Secretary a victory On May 19, she announces that 19 areas are to be moved out of drought.
  • June 1-15: Ms Spelman advances into the south-east as three hospipe bans are liftedIt's early days, but the Met Office reports that "a succession of frontal low-pressure systems have stalled over or close to the south of the country, bringing large amounts of rainfall in some areas, particularly in Wales and southern England...based on provisional mid-month stats, the beginning of June has been significantly wetter than average".
  • June 15 - 30: The Met Office reports that "provisional Met Office figures for June show double the average amount of rain has fallen, making it the wettest June since records began in 1910".  Ms Spelman also succeeds in banishing sunshine. "It is also the second dullest June on record with just 119.2 hours of sunshine, narrowly missing out on the record of 115.4 hours set in 1987."

These dry summaries don't altogether capture the human drama of the situation.  I have attempted to provide some flavour of it recently on ConservativeHome's morning newslinks with headlines that none the less meet Lord Justice's Leveson's requirement of rigorously separating news from comment.  As Lord Ashcroft rightly declares on this site today, "ConservativeHome is of course strictly neutral and impartial, as I am sure all its readers would attest".

So for example I am able today in the newslinks below to report the Daily Mail's "Get set for a month's rain in next two days" under the headline "Rain Goddess Spelman will let a month's worth of rain fall today and tomorrow after she conjures up wettest June on record".  Similarly, an original headline declaring "80pm storm chaos on way" became "Rain Goddess Spelman to unleash storms and hurricane-force winds from lunchtime today."

The Mail reports that four water firms are resisting the Environment Secretary to the bitter end.   South East Water says that restrictions will stay in place until autumn at least, while Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Central and Veolia Southeast declare that underwater aquifers are still not fully recharged.  But I am confident that the Rain Goddess will succeed at the last.

Readers in search of further information may want to read the Head of Water Resouces at the Environment Agency on why lots of rain doesn't necessarily mean the end of drought, and can cause flash floods.  The Mail suggests that Ms Spelman is also discharging rats, destroying farm crops and is threatening to disrupt Andy Murray's semi-final at Wimbledon.