Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Christopher Shale Is – Sorry, Was – Absolutely Right

There are a number of reasons why I will be blogging under a pseudonym, but I don’t expect any to include the conspiracy theories that a few amateur commentators will be floating (without too much seriousness, one would hope) after probably the most bizarre political story of the year.

A close political ally of David Cameron has been found dead in a portable toilet in a backstage area at the Glastonbury festival.

Christopher Shale, the 56-year-old chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association (Woca), was found dead on Sunday morning.

Cameron said he was “devastated” by his friend’s death, which came hours after Shale was quoted, in a Conservative strategy document leaked to a Sunday newspaper, as saying the Tories had come across over the years as “graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take” and needed to radically change.

As a tired old party hack who is now a member of the party simply by dint of not getting around to cancelling the standing order, two things strike me. First, that it takes a tragedy like this for a senior Tory to saying something kind about a member of the voluntary party, when for so long CCHQ has plotted to centralise and cut the legs from local associations.

Second, that Mr Shale’s criticisms are right on the nail. Joining the Conservatives is little different to singing up to the most irritating junk mail company in Christendom. The ordinary member gets little through the post from the party – local or central – that isn’t a plea for more money; whether it’s the tiresome local association’s raffles and rip-off beetle drives, or yet another smart-arse mailshot tapping you up for another donation.

The more enlightened local branch will hold an annual free bash for all the deliverers, whereas others grumble when their councillors don’t turn up at every poxy branch coffee morning and buy a book of raffle tickets.

Update: Via Guido the full memo is here.

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