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Panic bells were clamouring in Downing Street tonight and Conservative Campaign Headquarters was thrown into turmoil at claims that glamour-denuded, "post-political" and IPSA-impoverished backbencher J.Alfred Prufrock is poised to issue a historic challenge today to David Cameron for the Tory leadership.
One source close to the now Twitter-enabled MP said that he will issue
his "Turquoise Manifesto" this morning, and that a list of
supporters – who will be branded as "Candidate Champions" – will follow
by lunchtime. An intervention at Prime Minister's Questions is planned for later this week, with letters of no-confidence in Cameron to be sent by Thursday to Graham Brady, the '22 Committe Chairman.
Prufrock himself, however, denied the claim when contacted by ConservativeHome earlier this evening and asked for his comments on the story. "This is a very naughty conversation.
You are being very mischievous," he said. "I supported David Cameron to become
leader. I love him and want him to be leader for the next thousand years. I am
going to end this conversation." He then hung up.
However, friends of Prufrock insist that "Albert is sitting on up to 60 no-confidence letters", that over 150 Tory MPs are "signed up in blood", and that a team of secret backers, known in the lobbies as "FrockHeads", have been stalking the tearoom gathering support. "We have enough signatures to send Cameron to sleep with the fishes," one supporter said earlier today. "Alfred is poised to throw his toupee into the ring."
Prufrock's "No Change, No Chance" manifesto offers a "Five Point Plan to Save Your Seat":
- A flat tax of 15% & unyielding fiscal rectitude.
- The "total defeat" of the Taliban and all British troops out of Afghanistan by the end of March.
- Radical localism and an end to postcode lotteries.
- "Compassionate help for the poorest people in the world – at no cost to the taxpayer whatsoever".
- A free cycle lane for every school pupil.
Other populist manifesto features include "a real ale supermarket maximum pricing scheme".
Prufrock, who describes himself as a "a pragmatic Euro-realist sceptic", will also push for Britain to supplement its special relationship with the U.S with "a new strategic alliance with the Faroe Islands". A plan to encourage annual school visits to the Molineux Stadium has been dropped. Asked by ConservativeHome for his views on same-sex marriage, a supporter said: "His position is a stroke of political genius. He is both for it and against it."
Prufrock leads Telegraph leadership poll
A chaos-stricken Number 10 conceded earlier that it is facing defeat. "We can't think of anything unpleasant to say, because we've simply never heard of him," a senior Downing Street source admitted. But Prufrock's allies hit back: "Albern is completely unforgettable, once you can remember who he is," one said. "Dull is the new cool." Earlier yesterday, the Grummidge MP was narrowly outstripping Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph's Tory leadership reader poll.
Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party Chairman, claimed that "I have spoken to Aldrich, and can confirm that like all of us he is 100% behind David Cameron. There's nothing to see here: just move along, now." However, Prufrock sources claimed that in a re-enactment of the famous scene from "Spartacus", a crack team of 50 hardline "Frockheads" will stand in their places crying "I'm Prufrock!" during Wednesday's PMQs, before stripping to T-shirts bearing the slogan.
I'm Spartacus! I'm Prufrock!
Quizzied over whether their man is a "Stalking Horse" or a "Stalking Donkey", in the tradition of Sir Anthony Meyer, a Prufrock supporter described him solemnly as a "Stalking Womble". Asked if he was aware that the leadership rules no longer require a stalking horse, the supporter paused for a very long time. There is no sign that this fact has dampened the plot. Nor that it will prevent us, since we're desparate for a splash on a rainy January Sunday, from writing about it.