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ASHCROFT blue shirt

By Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC

The Prime Minister was in tub-thumping form at the annual party hosted by ConHome and the 1922 Committee. He gave a rousing rundown of the Government’s achievements, concluding that if we can’t beat such a shambolic Opposition then we hardly deserve to be in government: “I might sometimes forget where I left the car keys, but to speak for over an hour without remembering the most important problem facing our country is something else altogether.” Having himself succeeded a defecting MP in Witney, he was also in determined mood over the by-election in Rochester and Strood, where loyal activists would be feeling furious and betrayed. ConHome is ready enough to criticise the PM when it feels that is warranted, so we appreciate his attendance at these events. Cameron said: “If I feel my blood pressure falling below 120 over 80, I just log on.” Whatever can he mean?

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Andrew Marr has written what sounds like a riveting political thriller called Head of State. It features, he freely admits, a number of familiar but disguised characters from Westminster life. He enjoyed writing from his imagination, he told guests at the launch party: “Most of my life has been spent as a journalist trying not to make too much of it up.” (Too much of it?) But as he rightly says, real life is at least as implausible as anything in fiction – a novel about a politician called Reckless who defected on the eve of a crucial conference would be dismissed out of hand.

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Talking of great literature, the Politicos Guide to the 2015 General Election is available on the Conference bookstall. It has everything you need to know about the key marginals and prospective candidates, as well as a selection of thoughtful essays, including a contribution from your humble correspondent. I explain why all three established parties have failed the test the voters set them in 2010. The Tories because… well, why don’t you buy it and see? Come on, help a starving author.

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Labour have let it be known that they are very worried about next week’s Heywood and Middleton by-election. But Nigel Farage says the seat is probably “too big a mountain to climb” for UKIP. Are they both bluffing? If only someone would do a poll and find out what is really going on…

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