Tory Conference: Rapture as William passes the Dunrulin test

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The hall at the Dunrulin Nursing Home for Retired Gentlefolk was both packed and hushed. Row upon row of residents, dressed in their best suits, filled the chairs. At the side, in a place of prominence, sat Miss Evadne Trott of the local newspaper, physical proof of the success that had attended William's conference so far, and dread judge of its posterity for the future.

The first figure to appear on the small stage was not, however, William himself. After much consultation the Outlaws had decided that the occasion required a build-up.

Eventually trial by combat had resulted in a decision that priority should be given to the young, the female and the essnic minorities ("essnic" being a mistranslation by William from Violet Elizabeth's lisping plea for diversity).

So it was that the day's proceedings commenced with a spirited, incongruous burst of "I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts", played by Cecil on the electric organ, followed by a muddy, happy Violet Elizabeth, who launched into an enthusiastic, if unstructured, commendation of her "leader and betht friend, William Hague!"

And then, on cue, William himself appeared. He was immaculate. Every part of his visible physiognomy - ears, knees, neck, forehead and crown - had been scrubbed to a marvellous shine. His tie was straight, his shorts were clean. He was a credit to his mother.

William paused, glanced at Evadne Trott, and began. "This conference has been jolly good, an' we've all been fresh!" He paused again, and his audience obliged him by clapping. "We've been a lot fresher 'n those Tony Blairites." Once again he was clapped. William looked belligerently from side to side, and went on. "That Tony Blair is nothin' but a rotten ol' cheat anyway, what steals all his pol'cies from us. Whenever we have a pol'cy they go an' steal it. S'no wonder we haven't got any pol'cies left. What's the point of havin' pol'cies, when other folks jus' keep on stealin' 'em?"

William felt that he had struck a rich vein of indignation, and that it was - even yet - not entirely exhausted. Mindful of Violet Elizabeth's injunctions on the subject of compassion, he now raised his voice. "An' what about carin'? They say we don't care. Well we jolly well do care! If I see an ol' lady at the side of the road, I jolly well grab her arm an' drag her across, no matter how much traffic is comin'. We care more 'n anyone, acshually. It's jus' we don' always go tellin' people how much we care."

In this confessional mood, William now moved on to the subject of past errors. "An' we made mistakes," he admitted. "A' course we made mistakes. It's only yuman to make mistakes. An'mals might not make mistakes, an' I s'pose robots might not make mistakes. But yumans do, and I am a yuman!" Here William paused for effect, and achieved assent from all around the hall that he was, indeed, a yuman. "Mind you," William continued, "apart from that catapult goin' wrong and breakin' a window at the cottage hospital - and that wun't really my fault, 'cos it was a rotten catapult - apart from that I can't acshually think of a mistake, but I'm sure we made 'em, 'cos we're yuman."

With this flourish William had at last reached the end of his speech, and of the conference. As Dunrulin erupted into a restrained frenzy of brittle applause, William gave a high whistle, and his faithful Welsh collie, Jenkins, leapt into his arms, licking his face joyfully. It was, William thought, his happiest moment.