The Ageeable World Of Wallace Arnold: Full steam ahead! The good ship Tory's back on course!

Related Topics
Poop! Poop! Yes - we're back on course! Ample cause for celebration at Smith Square. But first, a few home truths: for the past two years or more, things in the Conservative party haven't been going according to plan.

Disaster first struck in the May of 1997, when we found ourselves losing the general election. Our first instinct was to cover it up, but the Man on the Clapham Omnibus (dread busybody!) soon found out, and we were forced to come clean.

Since then, things have gone from bad to worse: in poor Hague's first year, our private polls suggested we had lost the rural vote, the city vote, the suburban vote, the black vote, the female vote, the youth vote, the Welsh vote, the Scottish vote, the English vote, the heterosexual vote, the professional vote, the working-class vote and the land-owning vote. We did our best to remain cheerful. "At least we've still got a chance of hanging on to the gay vote," said poor old Michael Ancram one Tuesday lunchtime; but two days later, the damn fool Hague announced his engagement to Ffion, a woman.

Over the past six months, it's been all hands on deck and we've taken a few brave stabs at reviving our fortunes. Early on, we decided to go for what one might call "the more casual approach". Three-piece suits and sober senior members of the party were henceforth to call all TV and radio interviewers by their Christian names and engage in merry banter. Alas, in one exchange with Mr Paxman, little John Redwood took it a mite too far, appearing on Newsnight in his dressing-gown and slippers, sipping a cup of Horlicks, humming an old Nina and Frederick standard and addressing Mr Paxman all the while as "Petal".

Undeterred, we completed the first phase of our regeneration by undertaking a full-scale review of all the most successful Conservative policies of the past century. We were confident that, by reviving these core policies, we could in time win over the broad mass of the British public. I remember well the high-level meeting at Smith Square when our pollsters unveiled their findings. It emerged that the four Conservative achievements of the past century which met with the approval of over 89 per cent of those polled were: (1) Sir Winston Churchill's leadership in the war against Herr Hitler; (2) the installation of traffic lights at busy crossroads in built-up areas; (3) the abandonment of the Poll Tax; and (4) the Monet exhibition at present running at the Royal Academy.

Unfortunately, only 1-3 could be counted even loosely as Conservative achievements. Hague argued forcefully that it would be worth adopting a new Poll Tax revival policy, all the better to accrue popularity through its later abandonment, and poor old Michael Ancram suggested a policy of a complete set of traffic lights in every home for the new Millennium, but I'm afraid it all came to nothing, and we went home a little dejected.

But last week's major re-think, conducted in total secrecy in the obscurity of Mr Hague's private office, will, I think, prove our most imaginative and far-reaching of all.

We decided that there was in fact nothing wrong with our policies - it's our messengers that need a shake-up. We have thus managed to secure the services of a first-rate press and public relations team, among whom Miss Amanda Platell is the first to have been announced.

As Editor of the Sunday Express, Miss Platell brought that doughty newspaper to an infinitely more select band of readers than it had hitherto enjoyed. Though reports have conspired to suggest that she recently spoke at a public meeting in praise of EMU, Amanda has explained to my complete satisfaction that she believed herself to have been delivering an emotional response to the untimely death of Rod Hull.

And I may say that, blessed with the "popular touch" from her days as Editor of the Sunday Mirror, Amanda has unveiled first-rate plans for the revival of the party's fortunes, including a free novelty mug with the purchase of every parliamentary question and a full-colour pin-up of a super soaraway topless scorcher for every Conservative club in the land.

I trust I am not being indiscreet by revealing one or two of the other little tricks up our sleeves: that lifelong foe of New Labour, Mr Derek Hatton, will be contributing his merry can-do "Scouser" repartee when he joins us on the switchboard, and Mr Nick Leeson, who made such a name for himself at Barings, will shortly be free to join us as our new Party Treasurer. All aboard! Full speed ahead, Mr Bo'sun, full speed ahead! Poop-Poop! Poop-Poop!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor