Young Dave is rumoured to be finalising a ministerial reshuffle, to be announced early next week. Some key Cameron allies – the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, William ‘Ague, and Theresa May, are said to be staying put. Iain Duncan Cough may also remain at the DWP, if only because nobody else will touch that particular shambles with a bargepole.
But there is one thoroughly deserving candidate for the sack: step forward party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps. Under his signally ineffective leadership, the Tories have managed to come third – behind UKIP – in by-elections for the Eastleigh, South Shields, and Wythenshawe and Sale East seats. Strategist Lynton Crosby is rumoured to want him out. And there have been other distractions.
Do not even consider buying a motah from this man
Shapps’ past use of aliases – he admits to calling himself Michael Green, and may also have gone under the name of Sebastian Fox – is one thing. A firm selling a software package whose sale may constitute an “act of fraud” is something else entirely. HowTo Corp., now apparently wound up, sold Traffic Paymaster on the promise of generating traffic – and money.
However, and in this case there is a significantly sized however, “The software package produced web pages by ‘spinning and scraping’ content and sought to attract advertising, in contravention of Google's code of conduct. Google said it would blacklist sites created by Traffic Paymaster”. Then came the toe-curlingly embarrassing Bingo tax infographic.
Mouth, meet foot
“Cutting the Bingo tax and beer duty: To help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”, suggesting that working people were “they”, and that beer and bingo were their favoured pastimes, caused The Thick Of It writer Simon Blackwell to respond “if that Conservative beer & bingo ad had come up at a Thick Of It script meeting we’d have rejected it as being too far-fetched”.
Doc Hackenbush corrects the infographic for honesty
And now has come news that Shapps’ local Conservative Party, in Hatfield, has been fined more than £3,000 “after not supplying information to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for 2010, 2011 and 2012”. That’s on top of the complaint that a survey on the Tory Party website “is in breach of a basic legal requirement as it fails to specify the purpose for which the data will be used”.
Cameron will have been reminded by Crosby that the party chairman needs to be able to rally the troops for next year’s General Election. Membership has been falling steadily on Shapps’ watch, and is now well behind Labour. And he didn’t exactly distinguish himself at the European elections in May. If anyone deserves the boot, the grinning spiv with the reverse Midas touch does.
Sacking Grant Shapps would also be a popular move well beyond the Tory Party.