It all went to shit, that's what happened. Major gave the railways to some accountants for yucks, and soon Tory MPs had free reign to pass out in the road and bugger schoolboys at will. He was ousted because of it, then along came William Hague, a man more renowned for his intensely lackadaisical career as a child actor than any real political beliefs. Next there was someone else, but we were all too busy watching Nush on Big Brother IV to notice, and now Michael Howard has the reigns. His party hails Mike as their saviour, the man to stop this short-term rot, and in his defence Howard does bring an actual personality to the House of Commons (albeit a deeply disturbing one), arguing with Tony Blair over everything from tax policy to who gets use of the Chief Whip this weekend. Yes, every aspect of this man appears to bring cause for right-wing optimism, plus he can turn into a bat.
But can this sunlight-dodging weirdo really raise the fortunes of a once world-straddling party with nothing more than hard work, imaginative immigration ideas, and a willingness to listen to the British people? Will he end years of hurt for red-faced businessmen in tweed who like to bellow at flight attendants? Does Mikey have it in him to win back disaffected young people like you and me, those millions who still believe voting Conservative is akin to culling beggars with tyre irons? The short answer is 'no'.
The slightly longer answer is this; Michael's a man who came fifth to 'Little' Billy Hague in the 1997 leadership contest. Flash-forward to 2004 and suddenly he's the only person in the entire party willing to throw his hat into the ring. Which is how he got the job. And darn tricky the leadership interview process must be when you're the only applicant. Maybe all those people I see queuing outside Café Nero on recruiting day should have sent their CVs in as well.
So now the Tory party finds itself led by a man who invented 'poll tax', led calls to bring back hanging, and once claimed a minimum wage would leave two million unemployed*. This man is their best hope for power? Forgive me for saying so Mr Right-Winger, but you're up to your neck in turds. And sinking.
But never let it be said we at HDUK ignore those in need. Back in the day some of our best friends were even-tempered Nazis, and even today we understand where the Conservatives are coming from**. So, with Howard's recent showing in the local elections even worse than William Hague's before he got the boot, what next for the party following Mickey's inevitable failure? We at Home Defence say Britain needs viable opposition, if only to stop Tony doing what he likes all the time, and with Mr. Kennedy absent (he's feeling 'a bit poorly' again), we've decided to get to the root of this matter and find out who you'd like to see leading 'the blues'.
*NB. This is what's known in political circles as 'a lie'. The actual figure rendered jobless by the introduction of the minimum wage was zero. However, Mr. Howard is to be applauded for brazenly promoting the interests of rich employers everywhere. We all know there aren't any votes for him in allowing Joe Public to afford Sky.
So, where to begin? Who could possibly want this bacteria-stricken chalice? Not Ken Clarke, he's in America pursuing his dream of a career in professional eating and attending auditions for next season's Gluttonbowl. And not Michael Portillo, who enjoyed being a single mother on reality TV so much he's currently saving up to have his todger removed and become the next Nadia. We've racked our brains to think who might be available for the shortlist as Mr. Howard's successor (a shortlist of none), and this is what we've come up with. Who are those folk, lurking in the background like ravenous werewolves, all eyeing up the worst job in politics since John Prescott's bib-changer?
1. Claudio Ranieri
Following the recent problems associated with a profligate chairman and an overabundance of talent,
perhaps Claudio would benefit from a reduction in resources with which to build his team. Michael
Howard recently had to slim the side from 24 to 12 in an effort to reduce his wage bill, stating that a
large party size was unsustainable in these days of falling attendances at Conservative clubs and a drop
in donations. Ranieri could be relied upon to 'tinker' as necessary, possibly pushing Boris Johnson back
from the role of vice-chairman and onto the bench while bringing Juan Pablo Veron in as transport minister.
2. Geri Halliwell
It may seem a strange career trajectory, from Special UN Ambassador to presenting pisspoor TV and then on to Party leadership, but Paddy Pantsdown did it the other way (sort of). With her celebrity diminishing by the week, Geri has plenty of time on her hands to appear in Saatchi campaign ads and think up Britain's policy on the EU. A self-confessed Thatcherite, Halliwell's been through more than a King's Cross whore over the years. She would bring public sympathy, a knowledge of eating disorders, and undeniable yoga skills to the post, as well as something much more intangible which we'll call 'spice'. If Geri continues to fail Bond girl auditions her agent may consider the Conservative leadership an appropriate consolation prize.
3. Ross Kemp
Much like that other recent hard-man political success story, Arnold 'Skinsack of Walnuts' Schwarzenegger, Mr. Kemp is a popular musclebound mongoloid, a hero of the screen and gossip rag who, at first glance, may appear to have little acumen for the job. Yet, in the view of HDUK, Ross has many advantages over the Governor of California. He manages to be both semi-articulate and capable of keeping his busy hands to himself, with a direct line to the people's lughole through his wife's job as editrix of The Sun newspaper. Indeed, speculation is rife in Whitehall that all it would take is one of flame-haired hatemonger Rebekah Wade's popular red-top campaigns to get Ross into No.10 faster than that paediatrician had to run when the mob came to lynch him.
4. Boris Johnson
Boris has the advantage of already being on the inside of the Tory party, therefore he has some idea of what they do, at least in theory. There's also growing grassroots support for Johnson among those who'd like the Conservatives to be more like an old-time vaudeville act. His policies remain a mystery though, and Boris' lack of attention to detail means that bigotry often slips onto the pages of 'The Spectator' unnoticed, something which would move from a slight embarrassment to an international incident should he come into power. Many suspect Boris of being either fictional or anthropomorphic, while his charmingly confused persona isn't the kind of attribute enabling you to run a country or build relationships with world leaders of every nationality. Particularly when both your names are slang for 'penis'.
5. Margaret Thatcher
At 78 the former leader finds her powers very much on the wane, being both clinically insane and very nearly dead. Strange then, how she remains one of the best options for the Conservatives, despite her sons recent Guinean oil-chasing antics. Even now the Iron Lady operating at 20% of her powers is a long way ahead of Tim Yeo operating at 100% of his. Thatch would bring with her happy memories of those days when unions didn't dare strike and everyone understood what was meant by the phrase 'special relationship'. Indeed, with medical technology advancing all the time, those parts of Maggie's body which no longer work could probably be replaced by some mechanical alternative. The other advantage is a financial one. Recent reports from the nursing home claim Margaret could be tempted out of retirement by an offer of "some nice biscuits".
6. Ron Atkinson
Very much Norman Tebbit's choice this, a leader who can always be relied on to come in late and shore up
a sinking ship, 'Bigot Ron' has been at something of a loose end of late, and with punditry no longer an
option, surely there's an opening for this leathery icon as the twenty first century's Enoch Powell? Fondly
thought of by both Daily Express readers and the BNP for his post-Champions League 'Rivers of Desailly'
rant, this vacancy could be Ron's opportunity to fulfill deeply-held beliefs and "send darkie back where he
came from". Unlikely to be universally loved in today's multicultural UK, while Ron's over-fondness for Ray
Parlour may count against him when it comes to cabinet reshuffles.
7. Richard Curtis
Finally, from the world of movie screenwriting, comes a man who, were he to take the reigns, could mould the Conservative party, and possibly Britain itself, to his own unique vision. With Curtis in power tea ladies would find minimum maternity leave increased, there'd be tax breaks for those living with a 'quirky' flatmate, and who could resist his party conference speeches? Made through the medium of one of Britain's most floppy-haired film stars, these set-pieces might urge the Conservatives to forget nasty things like terrorism or the welfare state and concentrate instead on finding a nice lower class woman to fall in love with. Then cut to an hilarious wedding sequence and everyone comes home with a lovely warm feeling in their collective tummy. And with the Tories becoming more and more implausible as time passes, perhaps now is the time to bring in a man who, like the spin doctors of yore, has built a whole career on making things up.