REGGIE largeFrom :

To :  

Subject :    Arm Candy and Walkers

Dear Dessie,

And well you might ask how did my week end after the Reichsparteikonferenz at Manchester?  In a West End Cinema with a bunch of luvvies at the premier of some film called Suffragettes, Lady Mary insisted we went, having had sundry female relatives who were activists at the time chaining themselves to policemen and disrupting the Derby.  Not quite my scene, but a three-line whip and instructions not to take alcohol before the screening in case I fell asleep – which I did anyway!

I noticed that you made a home run after the foreign affairs debates on the Sunday.  I saw you were seated at the back of the hall with the other oldies but clapping your boss, the fragrant Justine, enthusiastically.  They said you were last seen at the station in tropical kit and your golf clubs prior to a flight to South Africa.  All right for some.

Soames and I only went into the Conference Hall once for the leader’s speech – as “Tory grandees,” as the gutter press insist on calling us, we expected to be shown to the front.  But some teenage girl said they were reserved for young, photogenic MPs from the 2015 intake, and would we sit at the back by the loos out of camera range?  Soames said “Sod, this for a game of soldiers!”, and we retired to the champagne and oyster bar where we attempted to cheer up several male MPs from the 2010 intake, one of whom mournfully observed “We were the future once”.

As you know, I hate these tribal gatherings, but given I was going to have to be there for the duration – Lady Mary chairs so many events – I had booked a large suite in the Conference Hotel.  A very comfortable base camp with plenty of liquid sustenance, a giant TV to watch the rugby, and no nonsense about having to endure the insults and eggs of the rent-a-mob beyond the barriers.
I managed to avoid most of the conference apart from a few fringe events.  Soames and I foolishly went to a meeting of the “Better Out Than In” group, but were seriously put off by the audience, who looked as if they were on day release.

Lady Mary issued a Fuhrerbefehl for my attendance at a boozy reception for “Wimmin to Win” kindly sponsored by that bra lady who is now a Peeress.  Dozens of Tory female ministers and MPs with just a few husbands and partners to serve the bubbly – Philip May being an outstanding example.  Of course, with so much female talent there was a lot of flouncing and fluttering of eyelids and power dressing amongst those who fancied themselves as leadership candidates – May, Morgan, Patel, Truss, Mordaunt and Greening just to name a few.

Several male Cabinet Ministers tried to get in – including G Osborne – but were physically turned away by some burly members of Manchester’s Women’s Rugby Club who acted as minders courtesy of Tracy Crouch.  I’d smuggled in Soames and Sir Simon Burns as auxiliary barmen, the former doing his Churchill impersonations, the latter his Leslie Philips “Why hello, ding-dong”.  But the new women MPs from 2015 were very tolerant, as we reminded them of their dads! Soames, Burns and I retired to a Chinese Restaurant for a mega-meal and concluded over several tumblers of rice wine that the next leader is bound to be a woman.

You will have heard the usual conference gossip about unsavoury incidents including some poor soul who, tired and emotional, took a taxi back to his flat in London instead of his hotel. Soames and I witnessed another incident in the gents loo where a Cabinet minister, unsteady on his feet, slipped at the urinal and grabbed the leg – and fortunately nothing else – of the chap next to him who proceeded to soak him with the old unmentionable fluid.  Unfortunate and amusing – and I will name names when we next meet.  I understand that strange bird called Hayes, who looks after security for Mrs May and reminds Soames of “Herr Flick” from “ ‘allo, ‘allo”, is investigating the incident in case there is more to it than meets the eye.

I was amused to see at the conference bookshop that Ashcroft’s book on DC was selling like “Fifty Shades of Grey”.  Several ministers had sent their Spads along incognito to buy a copy.  Of course Lord A wasn’t there himself but his publisher Ian Dale was “p-ping” copies.  I’m told that the book was largely written by this journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who is some relative of that Lib Dem Peer and copper bottomed sh-one-t of the same name.  After the unsubstantiated allegation about DC and a pig she’ll be lucky to get a job with “Hello” magazine.

Mind you, anything is possible on that front.  I am reminded of the incident in the Berlin Garrison in the early 1980s, when an army cook was caught in a gross act of indecency with a regimental goat on the garrison parade ground.  That Guardee general “Bernie the Bolt” sentenced him to six months in the Glasshouse, less for the actual act than it had taken place on the hallowed parade ground.

The Whips were much exercised by the publicity given to an app specially designed for our Party Conference.  I don’t understand these things, but Michael Fabricant says it was a dating app designed for one night stands at the Conference called “Blue on Blue”.  Some wag gave details of a Cabinet minister’s room and he was being contacted every night.

You may have seen the coverage in the press about how our new female MPs were on a rota to be seen with DC walking around the Conference.  Good coverage for DC and publicity for them.  But one of them objected to being used as “arm candy”, a phrase Soames and I were unfamiliar with.  Then we learnt that certain female ministers like Truss and Mordaunt were being accompanied by male “walkers”, and I understand that Johnny Mercer, he of the soap adverts, was much in demand.

Anyway, on the last day as Soames and I were leaving our hotel, a whole gaggle of new women MPs – Heidi Allen, Victoria Atkins, Nusrat Ghani, Andrea Jenkin, Lucy Frazer – grabbed us and said they would take us into the Conference Hall.  We were literally seized and placed in the centre of the group who led us on a version of line dancing much to the amusement of sundry reptiles and colleagues, one of whom shouted out:  “Like the look of your carers, Reggie!”

You know, Dessie, I really do object to many media types opining about the lack of education or hinterland of many MPs.  That chat show wallah Andrew Marr said we should read more poetry and could commune with our inner self if we were able to recite the tear-jerking poems of Messrs Graves, Sassoon and Owen.

I’m afraid I was brought up on sterner lit as my old grandfather Wilfred, who had served three years without the option in the Ypres Salient, much admired the writings of AP Herbert – author, MP and someone who had served his time at the front.  I was always taken by the poem he wrote about General Shute, his divisional commander, who was a stickler for cleanliness and literally a nit-picker

“The General inspecting the trenches
Exclaimed with a horrified shout:
“I refuse to command a division
Which leaves its excreta about.”

But nobody took any notice
No one was prepared to refute,
That the presence of shit was congenial
Compared to the presence of Shute.

And certain responsible critics
Made haste to reply to his words
Observing that his staff advisers
Consisted entirely of turds.

For shit may be shot at odd corners
And paper supplied there to suit.
But a shit would be shot without mourners
If somebody shot that shit Shute

Soames recited that at the bar of White’s and was cheered to the rafters – it seems that some descendant of the aforesaid mentioned general is a much disliked hedge fund manager – probably waiting to be enobled by No 10?

Well, now we are back at the Palace of Varieties we can observe the trials and tribulations of our Labour friends.  Of course you and I are old enough to remember the Corbyns and McDonnells and their bolshie friends 40 years ago.  They’re all unreconstructed Marxists and want to take over the Party before the country and don’t behave as the establishment thinks.  But they represent a common trend across the globe of people fed up with politicians who sound like PR men and women.  Corbyn’s 66, so Dessie, Soames and I await the call – perhaps one of us should stand for the leadership, or both of us, and take it in turns.  That would certainly upset the calculations of the 18 or is it 19 ministers who have indicated an interest, although Soames and I have placed a bet on a certain lady.

Hope to see you at the next Pale, Male and Stale dinner – let’s hope this time Soames doesn’t put a mickey finn in the punch – the photos taken, thank God, never got into the press.

Yours till the revolution,