Almost as soon as the ink had dried on Young Dave’s proclamation elevating Grant Shapps to the Tory Party chairmanship, the questions were being asked. Partly this is because they had been asked for some time beforehand, and so the press did not have to look far for their material. Partly it was also because Shapps is a 24 carat, gold plated, copper bottomed spiv of the first order.
Well known purveyor of Dodgy Motahs
Why that latter attribute had not disqualified him from elevation within the party should surprise no-one: Cameron had already demonstrated questionable judgment over his selection of, and blind faith in the integrity of, Andy Coulson. It also points up the apparent lack of any mechanism in the party to warn Cameron that some of his selections for preferment might not be the wisest of choices.
So another question now has to be asked: is Young Dave now experiencing a growing amount of buyer’s remorse? The photos of Shapps passing himself off as “Michael Green” at a Las Vegas conference, his flogging of a product (“Traffic Paymaster”) that performs content scraping in flagrant violation of Google rules, and his still unexplained Twitter account behaviour should be sounding alarm bells.
And these activities should have sounded a caution to Cameron well before he decided to make him party chairman. On top of all that, there is now an almighty row brewing over Shapps’ potential involvement in correspondence used to smear “Shagger” Prescott and damage his prospects of becoming Police Commissioner for his home area of Humberside.
That the various Shapps controversies are being freely reported in the pages of the Maily Telegraph also suggests that there is unease within the Tory membership at having a chairman some of whose activities recall the behaviour of fictional characters like Joe Walker, Flash Harry and Arthur Daley. And now Michael Ashcroft has indicated his own displeasure.
The first poster attack advert of the Shapps chairmanship, showing Mil the Younger, “Auguste” Balls and Pa Broon as three schoolboys under the strapline “Labour Isn’t Learning”, clearly attempts to tap into the same sentiments as the 1979 “Labour Isn’t Working” campaign which helped propel Margaret Thatcher into Downing Street. But, as Ashcroft points out, it is amateurish and looks cheap.
He does not mince his words: “daft ... juvenile Photoshopping ... silly stunts ... it suggests we see the whole thing as a big game”. Ashcroft is clear that for the Tories to get the voters on side, “Behaving like grown-ups would be a good start”. His message is aimed at one person – Young Dave. And he’s telling him that his choice of chairman is as dodgy as much of Shapps’ business background.
It is as if Cameron does not want to win the next election. Bad choice, Dave.