Is there no limit to the depth of human depravity? Be warned: if you are morally squeamish this report will shock you. Rumours, even solid allegations, are emerging that Mark Reckless was not entirely candid with Dave’s enforcers on the eve of his departure to UKIP.
When the Stasi from the Tory Whips’ Office came to call, while they flexed their rubber truncheons suggestively, Reckless assured them he had no intention of defecting. It is almost as if his first loyalty was already to UKIP rather than to This Great Party of Ours.
What made this treason doubly reprehensible is the fact that its victim was David Cameron, a man who, in the midst of a debased political system, stands out for having made consistency, honesty and integrity his hallmark.
Go into any pub, board any Clapham omnibus and the verdict will be unanimous: whether you agree with his politics (whatever they may be) or not, Dave’s name is a by-word for honesty. What you see is what you get.
If Dave promises a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty or on EU membership, the British people will get it; perhaps not this month, maybe not next year, probably not in 50 years’ time, but one thing is axiomatic: Dave means what he says.
When he promised to get immigration down to “the tens of thousands” he delivered, as early as last year, when he got it down (or, technically, up) to just 56 times ten thousand.
So, it must have been incredibly hurtful for a man who has always played a straight bat to be bowled a googly by Mark Reckless. We can only guess at the pain he felt. Did he cry? Almost certainly, considering he blubbed so impressively at the Scottish referendum.
Dave is not the only one feeling pain and anger. Ignoring the political principle that one should never focus on negative events or magnify setbacks, Tory chairman Grant Shapps, many of whose listeners had previously thought his name was a brand of dog biscuits, launched into a tirade of reproach at the opening of the Conservative Conference. Addressing the party faithful – the honorific title still given to a roomful of lobbyists, journalists, and hired extras from an agency who have replaced the departed party activists – Shapps gave vent to his sense of outrage.
“He lied and lied and lied again,” thundered Shapps. “We have been betrayed… Today, your trust has been abused. You have been cheated… As your party chairman, I share your deep sense of betrayal and anger. We have been let down by somebody who has repeatedly lied to his constituents, and to you. Who said one thing and then did another.”
His audience gaped, open-mouthed, at this denunciation of the Prime Minister by the party chairman. This turned out to be a misapprehension, but the confusion was understandable.
Dave himself courted similar misunderstanding in expressing his own pain: “…You have got elected with the help of Conservatives, who stuffed envelopes, who walked streets, who knocked on doors, who worked their guts out to get you to be a member of parliament, you have let those people down.”
This litany of betrayal was so embarrassingly autobiographical that only a political leader devoid of any self-awareness could have engaged in such a narrative without recognising how accurately it chronicled his own cynical betrayal of Conservatives and of Britain.
Equally embarrassing was his sub-Clint Eastwood peroration: “We are coming for you in by-elections and we are going to throw everything we can at you.” Ooh, get her!
Unfortunately, even this attempt at a macho fight-back had an unhappy resonance. It is precisely what betrayed ex-Tories, angry patriots and disgruntled voters of every stamp have been saying: “You lied to us and we are coming for you.” And not only at by-elections – more especially next May.
Even while Dave was speaking, at the back door of the conference centre a pantechnicon was delivering emergency supplies of brown trousers and bicycle clips for delegates. At last the penny has dropped, the panic aggravated by Lord Ashcroft’s apocalyptic polling predictions of Tory losses.
The terrified bleating from the sheep in Birmingham International Conference Centre reveals they have finally realised they are bound for the electoral abattoir. Paranoia has engulfed the proceedings. The Tory leadership, due to the disgraceful conduct of MPs who have the effrontery to lie to the serial liars who govern us, has no idea where the next landmine will explode.
On Wednesday, Dave has to address the conference with fingers crossed behind his back that Nigel Farage will not announce the defection of George Osborne before the end of his speech. For angry Britain it is a delicious spectacle. Lance-Corporal Jones was right: they don’t like it up ’em.