As you've been a Tory activist for about 50 years, you are probably very upset at the prospect of being expelled from membership of your local Conservative Association tonight for publicly criticising the party. It isn't the sort of thing that normally happens to respectable Tory ladies in late middle age - although, of course, Margaret was told to push off in her prime. Could she perhaps be something of a role model for you?

I gather the local worthies are quite bothered about the whole unpleasant business. But, really, you've been asking for it, haven't you? I mean, the members of the Ealing Acton Conservative Association are said to be a very tolerant, liberal-minded lot (for Tories), but you have sorely tried their patience.

I know you are preparing to defend yourself against the motion to expel you, but you cannot imagine that you will do anything more than irritate the members further. That and generate more publicity, of course: you aren't a sleeper for the Opposition, are you - one who has been in position for so long that everyone has forgotten you were there, like those Japanese soldiers who occasionally appear out of some faraway jungle asking who is winning the Second World War?

You know better than most that there are acceptable ways of registering your dissent. It is one thing to go around the constituency, at dinner parties and drinks dos, telling people exactly what you think of the Government - everybody does that, after all. And many formerly loyal supporters are saying, as you have been, that they don't intend to vote for this bunch again and don't believe that anybody else should either.

But Newsnight? Writing to the Times? And conducting a private poll among other associations all around the country? Most Tories think that the official polls do enough damage on their own. As for knocking on 5,000 doors in an attempt to canvass votes against the Tory candidate in the Newbury by-election, well, you can see what your chairman means when he says that other members 'have problems' with this approach, can't you? It wouldn't have been so bad if you hadn't announced yourself everywhere as a member of the Ealing Acton Association, but that is a mite embarrassing for the officers and other party members.

They are long-suffering. When you took your case against the Government to the car park of the local supermarket and managed to waylay about 2,000 people, you must have recognised that that was extremely good going for any political activist.

You have also probably managed to reach more punters than all the other so-called activists in the party put together. It is all very well to tell the world that ministers are so out of touch that they deserve a period in opposition, but you have got a minister, Sir George Young, as your own MP and you are meant to support him.

Perhaps the best thing might be for you to drop a line to William Waldegrave. He, too, has been getting into trouble for telling the truth too bluntly.

(Photograph omitted)

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