The departure of not at all charismatic MP Mark Reckless from the Tory Party – and into the sweaty embrace of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP – has drawn a swift response, much of it aggressive and condemnatory. Sadly for Tories, the presence behind the retaliation is Grant “Spiv” Shapps, who has no room to call anyone out for, well, anything.
Would anyone buy a used car from him? Probably not
Shapps, with rows of not totally excited looking young people from Road Trip 2015 behind him, wanted everyone to know he was really angry: “in his opening speech to the Conservative conference, Mr Shapps went further, telling members: ‘I share your deep sense of betrayal and anger. We've been repeatedly let down by someone who lied to his constituents and you. He lied, lied and lied again’”.
And there was more: “‘We have been betrayed,’ Mr Shapps told Conservative activists. ‘We all know individual MPs don’t succeed on their own. They do so by standing on the shoulders of others. Your shoulders. People who volunteered for Mr Reckless, they supported him as a Conservative. People who pounded the streets, they supported him as a Conservative’”.
As for “betrayal”, one wonders how candidates like Maria Hutchings, whose attempt to take Eastleigh from the Lib Dems last year was scuppered not just by UKIP, but also shambolic local party organisation – in a seat held by the Tories from its creation in 1955 to 1994, they had little idea where to find their own voters for photo-opportunities with visitors like Bozza – feel about that.
And what “Spiv” is not about to tell everyone is how he’s going to make all those Road Trip 2015 volunteers go round hundreds of constituencies come the run-up to the General Election. It’s all very well flooding places like Newark-upon-Trent, where it was a one-off by-election; when the Tories are defending scores of marginal seats, he and his pals will have to do rather better.
That task will not be helped by some of the behaviour around the departure of several figures from Conservative Future, as I observed recently, which can be traced back to Shapps and those around him. One also wonders how those people feel about the use of words like “betrayal”. Young Dave may come to rue the day he allowed Shapps to become party chairman.
Sadly, by then it will be too late. Tomorrow may not belong to them.