I first started having serious doubts about the Cameron project at a charity quiz a month or so after he’d taken over as party leader. On my table was an Oxford contemporary who should have been a shoo-in for a Tory seat. Bright, personable, hard-working and incredibly dedicated, he’d come from a fairly humble, state-educated background and planned his whole life with a view to serving his country as an MP. That’s why, after Oxford, he’d taken a job in the City which he thoroughly loathed but which he knew would give him the financial security he needed for when he started to campaign for parliamentary office.
There was just one problem. Well several actually. He was blond, well-dressed, well-spoken and male. He was also – as most real Tories are – Eurosceptical and a believer in the small state and low taxes. Conservatives would have turned out in their droves to vote for him.
But of course they never got the chance because he didn’t fit the profile of Cameron’s Nu Conservatives – and therefore didn’t make the selection list. Whereas Shaun Bailey, Joanne Cash and Philippa Stroud – all of whom failed to win their seats, despite their party leader’s strong personal endorsement – did. The seat my talented Oxford friend was hoping to be selected for, incidentally, was the Hammersmith one which Bailey lost.