Comic who stretches the credibility gap

How can a party that claims to aspire to government employ Jim Davidson as entertainer-in-chief?
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Who said the immortal words "Let's stick to British charities, fuck the rest of them", dragged one of his girlfriends down the street by her hair, and cheerfully confessed to being a wife-beater?

Who said the immortal words "Let's stick to British charities, fuck the rest of them", dragged one of his girlfriends down the street by her hair, and cheerfully confessed to being a wife-beater?

The sight of Jim Davidson saying he wanted "his country back" as he introduced William Hague at the Tory party conference was almost as unappetising as that of Jeffrey Archer entering the Old Bailey as a warm-up for his evening performance on stage in Windsor. How dare Mr Davidson make any claims on our country and, even worse, do so in the name of the working class? The choice of Mr Davidson as warm-up man and chief fundraiser tells us a lot about Mr Hague's pretensions to appeal to the ordinary folk of this country.

I was in the conference hall when Hague referred to the Government as "people from Islington wine bars", and much has been made of his references to his working-class background in Yorkshire, when men were men and whippets had four legs and so on. I too come from a working-class family, with one grandparent a train driver and another a quarry worker. For a long time my mother was a school dinner lady. But growing up in this environment is no justification for humour that is repellently coarse, homophobic, racist and sexist.

Like Davidson, I have been married four times, but unlike him I don't have five children by three different partners. I haven't been through rehab twice and I haven't felt the need to join the Conservative Party or the Carlton Club, or to entertain our troops overseas with jokes about handicapped, gay and black people. If I need to tackle bigotry in society I can think of other, more effective, ways to do it. Only last week Davidson told the Sunday Telegraph a few unrecorded jokes about Michael Portillo's sexuality and revealed that he was currently celibate and confining himself to "one glass of port a day". I don't think that's quite what AA means when it talks about one day at a time.

Hague sneers at Tony Blair and derides the Government as out-of-touch townies, while Davidson doesn't exactly land a killer punch by calling the Prime Minister a "wanker". The truth is that Tories live in Islington, wine bars exist all over the country, and so do wankers.

By supporting Archer long after most sane people had realised his version of reality is somewhat warped, the Tories proved how bizarre their taste in showmen is. Now they want to fine us for smoking a joint, while proudly parading a convicted drunk driver who freely admits that he used to deal in speed, dope and Valium. Last July, Davidson appeared in an unpleasant Channel 4 documentary entitled Celebrity Rehab to talk on this very subject. Elsewhere he told another interviewer that he enjoys intelligent conversation but would never choose to have one with a woman, claiming, "you can choose a bloke for that, can't you?" I could go on, but it's too depressing. How can the Tories expect us to buy into their hastily constructed circus tent with hard-hatted Widdecombe in one corner and caring-sharing Portillo in the other, presided over by skinhead "man of the people" William Hague, when the ringmaster is Jim Davidson?

The Tories are a party suffering from multiple-personality disorder. I accept that Hague is a sincere, decent man. I met Davidson when I was an executive at the BBC and he came to see me with an idea for a TV series. I found him to be highly intelligent and charming, but then he probably didn't classify me as a woman for conversational purposes. I was just a chance to alter the pattern of his career. Like Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson has incredibly low self-esteem. The rubbish that spouts from his mouth masks a desperate need to be wanted. No matter how high his ratings on The Generation Game, Davidson is political poison. He's one joker Hague should resist.