Tory Man? New Man?
It has come to something when even Matthew Parris is telling you to man-up. But such is the situation David Cameron finds himself in on the morning of his spring conference speech. Writing in today's Times, Parris tells him:
"The cartoonist Martin Rowson's image of David Cameron as a flower-picking, chubby, lace-cuffed, purple-pantalooned butterfly-chaser is potentially fatal...
"If I were in charge of shaping the new Conservative message I should within six months be wanting to hear from focus groups that if the Tory party were a sauce it would be Tabasco; if it were a garment it would be a hair shirt; if it were a physic it would be smelling salts; and if it were weather it would be a bracing northerly breeze."
So presumably focus groups currently say that the Tories are like salad cream, blouses and drizzle.
What Parris comments show is that despite all of Cameron's best efforts to win over women voters, the vast majority of the male and stale Tory party couldn't give a stuffed shirt about policies such as extending parental leave.
For Cameron's army of sports-car driving, forest-burning, cow-eating, Euro-bashing meat-heads, there are only two words that sound sweeter than the theme tune to Top Gear, and those two words are Tax and Cuts.
Egging him on further, Parris tells Cameron that he should be as 'unsentimental' in scrapping Labour policies as Thatcher was in opposition. Scrapping policies such as:
"Gordon Brown's tax-credit system; the abuse of incapacity benefit; the New Deal programme; the near-doubling (to such modest effect) of spending on the NHS..."
So come on Mr Cameron, tear off your pink shirt, throw that puppy off the cliff and let's get messy. If it's time for a change then let's see it. Tories want less hospitals and more poverty and they want them now. And if you're not man enough for the job; if you're just happy hugging the Labour slow-lane; then there is one star in an average-priced car, who is just itching to get his hands on the wheel.