The Sketch: Ya boo! Theresa has her fun, then spoils it for the rest of us

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The Independent Online

The day began with tributes. Francis Maude offered "a huge thank-you to the man whose brave and disciplined leadership made Conservatives start to walk tall again - our leader . . .

There was a pause while I wondered what on earth he was going to say. The name, when it came did sound familiar. But it's gone again.

It was a day for scene setting. Theresa May made the same speech she made five years ago. Let's not be the nasty party. (Cries of "Shame!") Let's not be the stupid party any more. (Cries of "Why not!") The speech concluded: "Ya boo, opportunism, intellectual self-indulgence, ideological obsessions, quick fixes and easy answers!" It had suddenly turned into a core values speech. "I'm afraid they've all got to go," she said. ("Rubbish!")

Five years on, and the same group therapy. She's still saying how important it is for them to do better, but not saying what they'd do.

"We've got to inspire people," she insisted. But as film critics say: "Don't tell us, show us."

She made a joke about cutting off Charlie Kennedy's head and she accused Tony Blair of cheating, conning and betraying Britain. It didn't seem the definitive end of ya-boo politics.

"From now on we will have to be scrupulously honest and painfully reasonable." Not from literally now, obviously; from the end of her speech.

"If the Conservative Party could only change the way we conduct our politics, and restore respect in government," she said, "then we could fund a porn shoot in front of European Scrutiny Committee B and make a fortune." Well, she didn't put it exactly like that but it doesn't matter what she said as the proposition was absurd.

On to the leadership candidates. Malcolm Rifkind made a little belter of a platform speech, the sort of speech that has gone down well in public halls for 100 years. I say that without a ghost of a sneer.

Ken Clarke packed out The Independent's fringe meeting. He's a director of the company so it pleases the Sketch greatly to endorse his candidacy. What a relief to hear someone talking about politics without all the usual bollocks. (Vision. Passion. Honesty. Respect.) Ken is what we want; he's too old and fat and tired to concern himself with anything other than being the prime minister. A thousand flowers would bloom under his benign neglect.