They’re not even back in power yet but already the Tories are starting to look like the sleazy, discredited political thugs we turfed out in 1997.
There’s an air of arrogance about them at the moment (even more than usual) which suggests that they feel the country’s twelve year aberration is over and soon they will once again be in possession of the thing that is rightfully theirs by birth: power. It’s not pretty to watch.
And here in Cornwall it seems the old-fashioned dirty tricks machine has been wheeled out in an attempt to help out Caroline Righton, former tv-am presenter and struggling Tory PPC, in her attempt to win the St Austell and Newquay seat at next year’s General Election. So far Ms Righton has done a blinding job of being completely invisible to the electorate (in stark contrast to her opponent, Stephen Gilbert) so, presumably on the basis that there is no such thing as bad publicity, ‘her people’ have embroiled her in that most modern of trends – ‘the Twitter Row’.
Righton recently emailed a number of target voters to express her shock at one of Steve Gilbert’s ‘tweets’. Steve’s update is (not so faithfully) reproduced in her email as: “[Steve Gilbert] was at meeting about regeneration of major town (declined by Tory PPC); Tory PPC at a publicity stunt (declined by me) – D**kh**d”.
Well, if that was true and Mr Gilbert had actually called her a ‘d**kh**d’ then I can understand why she might be so vexed that she’d want to email a whole load of people. The trouble is, he didn’t. The word was inserted at Righton’s end of things, as can clearly be seen by looking at Steve Gilbert’s Twitter feed.
All of this leaves two possibilities. Either an over-zealous member of Ms Righton’s campaign team added the word (for whatever reason) before it reached her, or she approved its inclusion in her email as a deliberate attempt to mislead voters in St Austell & Newquay. There’s a good chance it’s the former (I don’t think the Tories are stupid enough to think they can make things like this up and get away with it) but what is surprising is that, five days on, Righton has made no attempt to put this right. She could very easily have sent out another email apologising for the (hopefully honest) mistake and everyone could have had a laugh and moved on.
Instead she’s done nothing, and left the recipients of that original email under the false impression that Steve Gilbert has been going around calling her unpleasant names. Voters aren’t stupid, and the truth will come out in the end, but if Ms Righton’s people are going to put words into other people’s mouths, surely they can do better than ‘D**kh**d’.