It was a few years ago that David Willetts said that Tories needed to pass ‘the Bridget Jones test’. The problem for Mr Willetts was our reputation as people as much as our policies. Mr Willetts quoted these words from Helen Fielding’s famous diarist:
"It is perfectly obvious that Labour stands for sharing, kindness, gays, single mothers and Nelson Mandela as opposed to braying bossy men having affairs with everyone shag shag shag left right and centre and going to the Ritz in Paris then telling all the presenters off on the Today programme."
That was the 1990s but it’s Labour that now has arguments with Today presenters and engages in leadership crises. And the Conservatives? Are we now in a position to pass Miss Jones’ test? If you read today’s Observer the answer would appear to be ‘yes’. Carole Cadwalladr notes how the Cameroons have swapped 4x4s for Priuses:
"The Sloanes – and their political wing, the Tories – used to drive 4x4s and liked bloodsports. Now they drive Priuses and embrace cycling, camping, pop festivals, grow-your-own veg and seaside holidays. They’ve colonised traditional Liberal-Labour territory in an audacious ideological landgrab. How did that happen?"
The decontamination of the Tory brand has happened, it seems, because of the lifestyles modelled by the Cameroons. A graphic in The Observer pays tribute to their love of cycling, home-made ice cream, friendship bracelets and camping. Helen Fielding snubbed us in 2002. What would she do now?