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Before or after?

Posted by Richard Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New recruits for the Conservative Party?As fruitcake recipes are suddenly in vogue in certain offices in Brussels, the unsavoury joke doing the rounds at the moment, following the Boy King's incredible UKIP gaffe yesterday, is that the next election-winning stunt planned by the Tories is to recruit a cadre of experienced suicide bombers to blow up central office.

That at least would give tangible form to what effectively amounts to the slow electoral suicide being committed by the party as it insults the very voters it needs if it is to win at the next contest.

That the Boy King's experiment in "modern compassionate conservatism" is failing is borne out by the latest Times Populus survey, taken over the weekend. It suggests that despite the Labour Party being in almost complete meltdown, its support is holding up in the polls, up one point since early March to 36 percent, while the not-the-conservative-party is down one point at 34 percent.

When even the Telegraph turns against Cameron, you know he is in trouble. Its leader is headed, "UKIP deserves better", declaring that "if the Conservatives have a strategy to denigrate UKIP, in the hope of halting the erosion of their own vote, they should remember Michael Howard's blunder before the 2004 European elections."

It was then that he called UKIP leaders "cranks and gadflies", whence their vote climbed appreciably. Given the commendable cussedness of the British, Mr Cameron's suggestion that party members are "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" will almost certainly have the same effect.

Commenting on the sincerely-held beliefs of UKIP supporters, the leader then concludes that "it is precisely this sneering indifference to people's passionate concerns that makes them so fed up with politics," adding that "the Tory leader should apologise."

Of course, the Boy King will not apologise. What he said yesterday he holds to be self-evidently true and, if he runs to form, his view will be that, once again, the people – and the Telegraph – have failed to recognise this truth. That is their fault, not his.

It is not so much, the "sneering indifference" that is the Boy King's problem, therefore. It is that he inhabits so different a planet from the rest of us that he cannot even begin to understand that he has made a mistake.

Such is his mindset that there should be a good job waiting for him in the EU commission, when his despairing colleagues finally throw him out. The only question now is whether that will be before or after the Conservatives lose the general election.

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