Promise her anything, but give her [blank]

This one of the universal templates for advertising headlines. Fill in the blank with whichever product you’re paid to promote and you’ll have a reasonable ad without having to think about it.

I bet Dave knows this cliché. He certainly lives by it. After all, he still bears every other hallmark of his brief career in PR, such as an inordinate affection for focus groups.

Even as we speak, he must be licking his UKIP-inflicted wounds, trying to squeeze what’s left of his political career into the time-proven template.

The second part must give him no problems whatsoever. The lad has the power of his nonexistent convictions and will defend their absence with an obduracy worthy of a better use. Hence we should be in no doubt as to what he intends to give us: more of the same.

To wit: replacing sound economic policies with the printing press, importing and bribing voters grateful to him personally, staying in the EU at whatever cost, destroying our education and medicine even beyond their already ruinous state, irreversibly changing Britain’s demographic balance, playing lickspittle to Americans whenever they fancy some fisticuffs in the Middle East, getting rid of our defence, appointing advisors who fagged for Dave at Eton and got pissed with him at the Bullingdon – well, you don’t need me to tell you that Dave welcomes the status quo. He doesn’t call himself Conservative for nothing.

It’s the first part of the formula that must take some thought. For it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Tories won’t win many elections that are also contested by UKIP. UKIP may not win them either, but that’s scant consolation.

Losing a few council seats here and there rankles, but it’s not the end of the world, thinks Dave. Neither is the likely outright loss of the European elections. But polling half the number of UKIP votes in a parliamentary by-election points at years in opposition.

More – much more – important is the writing on Dave’s personal wall. And it says ‘out’. True enough, speaking-tour millions beckon, but what’s the fun in money if it isn’t accompanied by power? Dave’s friend Tony is a case in point: he’s raking it in, but all the money in the world won’t fill the void in his power-craving heart. And Dave listens to Tony. Dave meant it when he said he was ‘heir to Blair’.

So what’s Dave going to promise us to stave off the threat posed by all those… clowns! closet racists! proles! fascists! fruitcakes! smoking, ale-swilling, laughing hyenas! – what?!? What’s going to make them go away?

Here Dave must take stock of his full arsenal of empty promises. An EU referendum, maybe in 2015, maybe in 2017, maybe some time in the future, maybe never? No, that’s not it. Dave had already made that pledge chiselled in cotton wool before this week’s elections, and still those UKIP bastards rubbed his nose in it.

Take that ex-pug David Davis’s advice and call a referendum straight away? No, that’s not going to work: neither Ken nor Nick will wear it. And what will Tony say? Calling an in-out plebiscite now, when the EU is going down the tubes, means running a serious risk of losing it, and that simply won’t do. The EU must live so Dave may thrive. So damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Cutting taxes? Yes, that’s not a bad idea – throw a bone to those bitching middle classes. In the long run this might even increase the tax base and hence revenue. But in the long run Dave will be on the lecture circuit, so who cares? Cut taxes straight away and there will be less bribe money in the kitty to mollify all those old Estonians and our home-grown lazybones.

And what will Tony say? Dave knows exactly what that’ll be. Tony will say – nay, he’ll scream off The Guardian’s page – that Dave is a privileged nabob out to please his banker mates at the expense of all those stiffs, working or otherwise, whose mouthpiece Tony still fancies himself to be.

No, cutting taxes is a non-starter. However, promising to do so may just keep those UKIP wolves at bay long enough for Dave to squeak by in the next election, or at least to lose it by a respectable margin, with some of his parliamentary party still in Westminster. Yes, let’s promise that. Or hint at the possibility that we may promise it after the next election. A good idea, that. Tony will approve.

Having dilemmas like that can drive a man to drink. Promises, promises… Dave pours himself a stiff one and puts on his favourite Fleetwood Mac single ‘Tell me lies, tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.’ Yes, that’s it. Mustn’t life imitate art? Of course it must. Tony says so.



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