Subject:       Keeping Up Appearances

Dear Dessie

Thank God the Party Conference season has ended and normal services can be resumed.  It was a joy to have a snifter with you at Birmingham, and I thought the lounge bar of The Trousered Ferret had great atmosphere.  I still can’t believe that you opted to stay in a student hostel dormitory for two nights, even if the cost was only £10.  As you said, the only compensation was having Claire Perry bringing you dish of char at 06.00 hours – were these dorms actually mixed?  Of course you had to leave for a donors conference in Nicaragua on the Tuesday morning and missed the Leader’s speech and the surge in the polls.

As I told you, Lady Mary and I were accommodated in the more salubrious surroundings of the Free Trade Hotel.  I avoided all the ghastly late night drinks parties hosted by reptiles from the tabloids – warm chardonnay and lots of spotted faced youths.  Lady Mary and I went to the Treasurers’ Party where I managed to find a discrete corner drinking Pol Roget with “Fluffy” Barringer – he was a subaltern with me in the Duke of Brunswick’s Own Yeomanry and then made a packet in the City.

From there I could observe in safety Lady Mary gripping the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms about women ministers and MPs.  She was furious with the reshuffle cat walk, “demeans women”, “merely a put up job for the tabloids”, etc.  Cameron had that desperate look on his face that we MPs know when cornered by an obsessive constituent and when Osborne tried to intervene he retired hurt.  “Fluffy” observed that if Lady Mary was Party Chairman there would be no more defections and we would be ten points ahead in the polls.

I thought the cheery news was that Brother Miliband had a toe curler of a conference speech with more senior moments than speakers at the 1922.  As for Clegg, I couldn’t keep up with his continual changes of dress all in the space of an hour – talk about great coats on, great coats off.

Well, we returned to the Palace of Varieties with UKIP running amok like ISIS and widespread panic on Labour’s and our benches.  You know how our colleagues move seamlessly from complacency to panic.  You won’t have seen the introduction of Carswell in the Chamber.  You know, Dessie, it’s a funny old world when this representative of “the Peoples Army” and would be destroyer of the Westminster establishment went to Charterhouse, and was accompanied by Peter Tapsell (Tonbridge) and Zac Goldsmith (Eton), whilst his leader Farrago (Dulwich) sat in the Peers Gallery.  I understand Carswell took Farrago for a liquid high tea at the Hurlingham Club where he is a member.

Much speculation about where Carswell will sit in the Chamber.  The smart money is on Labour’s bench beyond the gangway where Dennis Skinner, Ronnie Campbell and other members of the awkward squad catcall.  If he sits there he will be in danger of being scragged like Roy Jenkins and David Owen during the 1980s.

Did you see that report in the papers of some survey of MPs which shows we are stressed, overeat, drink too much, fail to get enough exercise and fantasise about sex?  According to the whips they can’t find anyone who admits to completing this survey.  You, Dessie, are fighting fit with all that swimming in the Serpentine, bike riding and tennis.  Soames and I admire you from the lounge bar.

M.Gove Esq, Chief Whip and resident shrink, tells me that he intends going to the weekly meetings of all the Permanent Secretaries.  Of course, it is straight out of “Yes Minister” ,as those wallahs will have another real meeting after any he attends or will keep moving the venue.  I’m told the Cabinet Secretary is threatening to take him to the ECHR which will merely cause more wailing and gnashing of teeth at the ’22.

God alone knows, Dessie, I try to keep up morale of all ranks but even I think young Shapps and the the Fuhrerbunker must be off their trollies to send out an email entitled “A Guide to Safe Sexting”.

I hope to meet you a week Sunday for a glass or three and a bite of joined up meat at The Sober Scotsman at Virginia Water.

Yours till the final round,