One by one, Howard ticks off the Tory hate figures

Having got through asylum-seekers and burglars, Howard had to go back to Gypsies

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From his stance on Gypsies, it's clear that Michael Howard's election strategy is to sound as much as possible like the fat, loud blokes you get in pubs. Next week he'll sit in the Commons in his shorts, and when Theresa May walks in, he'll yell "Wooor, look at the breasts on that. Oy darling, I wouldn't mind seeing
them achieving an 8 per cent swing." Then the next set of adverts on hoardings will say: "Let's face it, yer coloureds do stink. Now how is
that racist? - Are you thinking what we're thinking - then vote Conservative."

From his stance on Gypsies, it's clear that Michael Howard's election strategy is to sound as much as possible like the fat, loud blokes you get in pubs. Next week he'll sit in the Commons in his shorts, and when Theresa May walks in, he'll yell "Wooor, look at the breasts on that. Oy darling, I wouldn't mind seeing them achieving an 8 per cent swing." Then the next set of adverts on hoardings will say: "Let's face it, yer coloureds do stink. Now how is that racist? - Are you thinking what we're thinking - then vote Conservative."

He's certainly ticking off the traditional Tory hate figures. Having got through burglars and asylum-seekers, he's running out and has had to go back to historical groups such as Gypsies, with six weeks still to go. Soon he'll tell us that decent people are having their lives ruined by hordes of Huguenots. He'll hold a press conference to say: "I was speaking yesterday to an old-age pensioner who can no longer hear her pet cat crying to come in because of the noise of all the Huguenots in her street speaking Flemish and making cloth. The time has come to say 'Enough is Enough. If you want to weave - you'll have to leave'."

Like the pub bigot, Howard's argument has no logic. To start with, it was Howard's government that revoked the law giving Gypsies designated sites, which has forced them to move about like this. But also, when asked where the Gypsies should go, he said they should be housed by local authorities in bed and breakfasts, which would be vastly more expensive than leaving them where they are. I suppose if he was asked what would happen then, he'd say, "Well it's simple. We could start yelling that Gypsies were being given toast and tea at the taxpayers' expense, and demand they're moved back to where they started."

It's a clever strategy, as it could go on forever. In 10 years he'll snarl "There's plenty of space for them beneath the Earth's crust." Then campaign that "Their dirty caravans are disturbing our traditional tectonic plates," and send them into space, then moan that fly-tipping has cluttered up our constellations, send them back to bed and breakfast and so on.

Similarly, the Daily Mail this week told us that near one site the village school is full of travellers' children. Then in the very same sentence it complained that the travellers' children often play truant. In other words, it's a disgrace that the school is full of Gypsy kids who aren't there. That's quite an achievement, to complain about two opposite and contradictory things in one sentence. Maybe they'll try another one, such as "They never clean anything and leave the whole place stinking of soap and deodorant."

Local police near this site say the number of incidents reported to them has been less than would be expected for a normal housing estate of that size. Yet the Mail tells us, with no evidence, that the travellers regularly drive around the area while drunk.

You might as well have a front page that goes, "Right. My brother-in-law, right, he works down the council, and they go in there right, in their caravans and everything, and the Mayor comes in and offers them a whole county each, right, 'cos that's the law. But they don't want it, 'cos round here there's a lucky heather mine, where they get all the lucky heather for all the Gypsies right across Europe. And the reason they drive drunk is it's part of their religion. So they get tanked up, then drive their chickens to London and back, and sometimes they get so legless they fall asleep and one of the chickens drives, but even the chicken has to get drunk otherwise it's an insult to their God, and there's nothing the police can do."

Howard's complains that residential people can't build something without planning permission so why should the Gypsies? It's not true they get preferential treatment, but even if it was, the two cases are hardly similar. The Gypsies need to build somewhere quickly to live, whereas the residential person wants to build a tacky extension over his twee crazy-paved patio so he can sit in a wicker rocking chair reading the Daily Mail and wondering if we'll ever get India back.

But Howard's done his job, which is to make his supporters feel that their way of life is threatened by a series of groups that only he can deal with. And The Sun has played its part, whipping up a more earthy hatred with its slogan "Stamp on the Camps".

So the phone-in shows are full of these snarling people grizzling "Have we gone mad? I mean, they get planning permission to put their filthy hovels everywhere, but if I wanted planning permission to build a camp to gas them all in, the local council would say I had to wait until July. I'm telling ya, it's one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us."

So maybe now The Sun might try another one, like "Drop a hippo on a gippo" - "That's right folks, our reporters have bought a herd of hippos from a safari park in Kenya, and unless the putrid pikeys clear off and take their Romany rubbish with them, we're going to drop one hippo a day from our soaraway Sun Tornado bomber - right on to a filthy gippo."

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