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

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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness