Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The next Tory MP for Wetherfield

No sooner the word than the deed. Here's Adam Rickitt getting on with some telephone canvassing of the electorate.

Yes, Adam is apparently on the A-List of approved Tory candidates. That's Adam Rickitt, the former Coronation Street 'actor,' who left to start a music career and promptly vanished after producing one of the most unsubtle, homo-erotic music videos ever put on tape. For reasons best known to the Tory party, he is now deemed to be a more suitable candidate than Iain Dale, a long-term party stalwart, successful businessman, fellow-blogger and friend of this blog.

Adam Rickitt?

ADAM RICKITT?

Has Cameron lost all his marbles?

Actually, probably not. Despite Rickitt's incompetent performance a few weeks back on Question Time - by far and away the worst I've seen since Emma Jones turned up - when he was eventually cut out by Dimbles after demonstrating his lack of knowledge and thorough unsuitability for politics, there is more to this than meets the eye.

Think about it for a second. The Tory Party's biggest problem is its image - fusty, old-fashioned and deeply unfashionable. There was a survey around the last election which presented a number of policies to people and asked for their responses, without identifying the party originating those policies. The Tory policies tested very well, right up until the point when people were told who had devised them, then their popularity slumped markedly. Image is the problem, not their politics.

What to do? Make it look new - work on the image and everything else will follow. For the next 24 hours, Adam and his fellow beautiful young people will be the story of the Tory Party - people will see their pictures associated with the Tories and that is what will stick in the memory. At the moment, Ravey Davey C is all about the narrative story and changing the image of the Tories - hence the photo-ops on glaciers and riding a bike to Westminster. Actual policies can come later (if at all), but for now the only thing that matters is that Mr and Mrs Public get the message that the Tories are changing. New Conservatives, anyone?

A word of warning to Dishy Dave and his Notting Hill set. While he's slavishly following the Blair playbook - even to the point of posing today with a collection of new Tory councillors (Cameron's Coven, anyone?) - he needs to be aware of the problems that the imposition of the 'chosen ones' can have on local constituency parties. Labour have been doing it for a while, with distinctly mixed results. Blaenau Gwent is just the most high-profile example of this policy. Sometimes it works and the constituency gets a good candidate that they like and would probably have chosen anyway. Sometimes it backfires completely and you end up with the local membership - all volunteers, remember - giving up and walking away, disenchanted. In the short term, that's survivable, but in the medium to long term, it spells disaster for the local party, which will wither and die. Once that happens, the basic support for that MP disappears. We've been there, David. Feel free to make the same mistakes.

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