In the early hours of last Friday morning, as the result of the Bradford West by-election was announced, it became obvious that Mr George Galloway was seriously guilty of stockpiling votes. This was, we know, a selfish and reckless thing to do, and in the process several of the other political parties got badly burned.
It is unfortunately necessary from time to time to think about Mr Galloway. For much of the time he is safely out of the country, fawning over fascists or ranting at Americans, and can be ignored. Then he comes back and wins an election somewhere gritty and diverse and we are reminded of the stupendous perversity of the electorate.
Worse, these gritty, diverse voters tend to be doubly perverse since, having first elected Mr Galloway, they usually unelect him next time round, thus releasing the contagion back into the political bloodstream and creating the conditions for it to be re-elected all over again. It is a great surprise that David Cameron and George Osborne haven't thought of imposing a tax on voting Galloway - it would be a lucrative as well as pleasurable source of repeat fees - as they do for most other things that they do not understand.
Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party chairman, was wheeled out to explain away the result in which the Conservative share of the vote fell to 8%. This is what party chairmen are for. She said that the Bradford West result was very bad for the Labour Party, which indeed it was, though this needn't have obscured her to the fact that it was also very bad for the Conservative Party. For not saying this she was roundly denounced by members of her Party, though not as roundly as she would have been denounced if she had not said that it was very bad for Labour.
Lady Warsi is among that small and select group, the British bobsleigh team of politicians, who simply cannot win. Some, like John Major and Gordon Brown, enrol in this order only through years of patient effort; for others such as Andrew Lansley, it is achieved through intense bursts of stupidity achieved over a relatively short period of time. Baroness Warsi's entrance on the other hand was more or less instantaneous, and occurred as soon as it became evident that not only was she female and a Muslim, but also Chairman of the Conservative Party. Such a combination of attributes sits uneasily with the average Tory activist, many of whom still remember the Crusades and who expect their women either to be able to make cakes or to be Mrs Thatcher. Baroness Warsi may, for all we know, be able to make cakes, though Tories will never come to believe it because there is always too much egg on her face.
In these circumstances it should be useful that the Tories have another party chairman in reserve. However, this is an individual, Andrew Feldman, who is almost as obscure as the reasons for appointing him. Baroness Warsi got the job on the assumption that she would appeal to certain demographics - ie women, Muslims and, perhaps above all, women Muslims - whose votes it might be quite handy to have. Mr Feldman is a close friend of David Cameron, yet there is no evidence that the Conservative Party needs to reach out to close friends of David Cameron, especially since the prime minister is so assiduous in inviting them round to Downing Street for his famous quiche and rocket suppers. These in party fundraising terms are the equivalent of swingers parties because the prime minister very often walks away with the details of another man's bank account.
All of this helps explain why some Conservatives think it would be a good idea to have another party chairman altogether. Michael Fallon, who comes from that marginalised and distrusted sect the Conservative MPs, is thought to be one popular candidate, as is David Davis, who burnished his credentials last week by attacking the prime minister for being out of touch. These are obvious and unimaginative choices. Personally I would pick George Galloway, who has little love for the Conservative Party it is true, but who would probably do anything for money.
Galloway, who hailed the indefatigable Muslim-killer Sadaam Hussein, but who manages to get himself elected off the back of Muslim votes; Galloway, who rejoices in the soubriquet "gorgeous" despite that red leotard. Here is a man who can convince anyone of anything, including presumably that George Osborne has a coherent economic plan or that David Cameron knows where you can pick up a decent Cornish pasty.
While the prime minister struggled to trawl his memory banks for recollections of indigestible refreshment, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, pounced. Ever with his eye on the main chance, Mr Balls popped into the nearest branch of Greggs that he could find that had a set of press photographers on the premises for a sausage roll. No doubt this was part of his intensive training programme for the London marathon, which is why he took Ed Mliiband along with him to hold the stopwatch. Luckily for Mr Balls in his busy week of tackiness, a woman managed to set fire to herself while decanting petrol in her kitchen, enabling him to blame the Government for its dubious advice about stockpiling fuel ahead of a threatened tanker-drivers strike.
Baroness Warsi said that it was sickening that Mr Balls should try to make political capital out of the incident. She was right, of course, but the rules of the political bobsleigh club mean that it is not permissable to say so.
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