"Tired and emotional" is how the satirical magazine Private Eye puts it, which explains the light posting yesterday. The EU Referendum household has house guests and the wine has been flowing liberally, somewhat restricting the flow of posts.
That has not stopped me, however, from reading my e-mails, one of which was from my colleague and partner in crime, Christopher Booker. Headed "Booker column censored", he tells me:
I was told by the SunTel editor today that my item attacking Cameron is to be dropped. This is the first time such a thing has happened since I began writing the column 16 years ago.Thus, people buying the Sunday Telegraph today for the Booker column, or referring to it on the website will find it strangely truncated.
Furthermore, Booker wanted the paper to publish the photograph of the Boy cuddling the black baby in Darfur, but has been told that the rights have been reserved. Publication in the UK is not permitted. What is the Boy trying to hide?
Anyhow, in accordance with this Blog's transparency policy, we publish here both the photo and the copy that the ST cut from its pages. This may well get me fired, as I am retained by the ST as a researcher for the Booker column. It may even get Booker fired but, either way, I'm past caring. Here is the missing copy:
As David Cameron ends his first year as leader of the Opposition, there are clear signs that the greatest gamble in modern British politics has not come off. The little group of ex-public schoolboys who last year hi-jacked the Conservative Party have seemed to gamble on just one strategy. List everything the Party used to stand for – low taxes, the family, rolling back the power of the state, encouraging business, upholding our defences, curbing criminals, common sense – then go for the opposite.Much of this is based on material previously published on the blog, which sends the additional message. What is fit for the blogosphere is not suitable for the MSM, which has it own agenda. Our readers already know this, but pity the poor saps who rely for the MSM for their information and are naïve enough to believe what they are told.
The essence of the gamble has been the belief that, in wooing the support of Lib Dems, would-be greenies, Guardian readers and the supposed "soft centre", they could take their supposed "core" supporters for granted. But as support for Cameron falters, all the evidence seems to suggest that those wished-for new recruits to his "Not The Conservative Party" are not forthcoming, while the Party's former natural supporters are left baffled, dismayed and increasingly angry.
All this was neatly symbolised by the recent photo-opportunities staged by the three men now competing for the role of Britain's prime minister. Mr Blair and Mr Brown, aware that defence and national security (not long ago rating 34 percent on a Mori poll) still rank very much higher as voter priorities than "environmental" issues (only 8 percent), flew out to the Iraq and Afghan battle-zones to pose in front of the largest guns they could find. Mr Cameron, at the same time, flew out to the Sudan, in Lord Ashcroft's CO2 emitting private jet, to be pictured cuddling a little refugee child. It was the "Men from Mars" against "the Boy from Venus". "Darfur Dave" did not come well out of the contrast.
The tragedy is that, confronted by the most corrupt, hypocritical, inefficient, illiberal, discredited government in history, what millions of voters are looking for is an alternative which might put an end to the sleazy, self-regarding sham of the Blair era by displaying some "masculine" firmness: in cutting back on the bloated public sector and the out-of-control bureaucracy which is destroying our health service, education and police; which might encourage enterprise; which might restore democracy to local government; bring back some balance into our public finances; sort out the shambles into which our Armed Forces are sliding; uphold Britain's national interest, as we suffocate under the malfunctioning system of government represented by the European Union.
In other words, what much of the country is crying out for is a party which represents precisely those values which Mr Cameron's Not-The-Conservative Party seems so hellbent on abandoning. As for what he stands for instead, almost the only clear message Darfur Dave seems to have put over to the voters is his sentimental "save the planet" greenery, on which his dotty little gimmicks and practical ignorance have simply made him a laughing stock.
What many voters sadly begin to conclude is that Dave and his cronies seem so hopelessly ill-equipped to take on the serious business of government that, if we have to choose between one gang of PR merchants and another, better stick with the devil we know. Hence the evidence of the latest polls appearing to show that the gamble has failed. Ever larger become the number of would-be Conservatives sorely tempted to join that 40 percent who already feel so alienated from politics that they just stay sullenly at home. But the Guardian readers are scarcely flocking to replace them. So where does all this leave our country?
Anyone who wishes to publish the missing column on their own blog - with due acknowledgements to Booker - is welcome.