James Delingpole: Dave's centrist hair is no electoral stunt. It's vanity

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The Independent Online

Shortly after his party's stunning victory in the Crewe by-election, I can exclusively reveal, Dave Cameron was summoned to a top secret strategy meeting by his balding, crop-headed guru Steve Hilton.

"Dave," said Steve. "New Labour's toast. You're a defo for next PM. The only thing that can stop you now is if you come over too triumphalist and do a Neil Kinnock. You've just got to keep banging on with that same mind-numbingly tedious message about the Tories being the party of the centre ground, but do it in such a way that it sounds fresh and new."

"But how?" asked Dave, fiddling thoughtfully with his bouffant locks. "I've been to the glacier. I've said Polly Toynbee is greater than Winston Churchill and that anyone who doesn't worship the NHS is worse than Dr Mengele's more evil twin. What more can I do to persuade the tofu-eaters at the Sindy that I'm a woolly centrist?"

The crop-headed guru glanced upwards, watching enviously as Dave ran his elegant, Bullingdon-toned fingers through hair almost Melvyn-Bragg-like in its priapic luxuriance. "The answer's in your hands," he said gnomically (and not a little jealously).

Well, that's one explanation, at any rate, for the exciting new centre-parted hairstyle Dave Cameron unveiled for electors this week. And one which will surely strike a chord with the many who believe that our Dave is incapable even of downloading a new track for his iPod without having first consulted Steve, George, Mikey, Andy and two dozen focus groups as to the effect it might have on the polls.

That centre parting, they are saying, is proof positive of how shallow the man really is. If he adopted it on the advice of Steve as some sort of subliminal political statement, well that shows he's just a puppet with not an original idea in his head.

And if he didn't adopt it on Steve's advice, hey – that's almost worse. Dave's 40, for God's sake. Do we really want all the major geopolitical decisions in our lives for at least the first four years from 2010 taken by a man so frivolous and vain that he still toys with his fringe like an overexcited teenager with his first tub of sparkly hair gel?

This is what the sceptics are saying but they've got it all wrong. Vanity, style and trendiness have never been Dave's thing. What really motivates him, as of course is the case with almost all politicians, is the quest for power.

Until a few weeks ago, this quest quite naturally took the form of striving to become the next prime minister. But now this mission's in the bag, Dave needs to find new ways to express his urge to dominate and conquer. Tonsorial triumphalism is one obvious route.

Like most of Dave's Oxford generation, I find that now I have hit middle age I have considerably less hair to play with than he does. (In fact, the only one of us I can think of who has more hair than Dave is Boris Johnson.) For a man this matters. Never mind all that stuff about baldness being a sign of testosterone; it is also nature's earliest way of telling you that you're no longer in the game. No more meaningless sex with beautiful strangers for you, mate. That's your lot.

Just as the reason that dogs lick their balls is because they can, so it is with Dave's hair experiments. "Hey guys," it says, to those of his receding-hairlined male contemporaries who ever imagined they could compete with him on any level whatsoever. "If you thought it was bad that I'm soon going to be in charge of the country and you're not, get a load of this...."