Behind the cock jokes and red trousers, Sasha Swire’s diary is a chronicle of the Tory party’s ruin

Who is this Tory Hooray – Hugo Square? – This story just won’t go away! – Owl

Camilla Long www.thetimes.co.uk

Across the hills and dales of this land, they live in well-upholstered obscurity. Red of face, thin of hair, bad of breath and sharp of trouser, the classic Tory Hooray is — or was, until recently — the party’s most valued foot soldier. If you’d had the misfortune to attend any Cameroon gathering between 2008 and 2012, you’d have met hundreds of these honking gropers, hoofing down champers and making cock jokes, nuzzling your ear and rasping, “You look like a bit of a goer,” while a light Ibiza techno pool party beat played softly in the background.

In Diary of an MP’s Wife, Sasha Swire confirms that by 2010 the party was more or less ruled by these faceless crashers, none more faceless and crashing than her own red-trousered husband, Hugo Swire. As a friend cried last week: “But who is Hugo Square? I’ve met him four times and still have no idea who he is.” I can tell you exactly who he is: the man who killed the Tory party. He is all of them. If you have read the extracts of her viciously funny book, you cannot help but feel utter fury towards the phalanx of entitled, drunk, snobby shaggers — including, according to recent reports, Sir Hugo — ushered in by David Cameron. Hugo himself spends half his time tittering with ladies-in-waiting — at one point one of them is placed next to someone whose name sounds like “Fat Cock” at a Singaporean banquet at Buckingham Palace — and the other half comparing poor Michael Gove’s penis to a Slinky (“it comes down the stairs before the rest of the body”).

When not joshing about trouser snakes, he’s falling over. Opening the Hugo Swire Centre at the Shanghai branch of the Berkshire public school Wellington College — in itself monstrously strange, especially as Swire went, obviously, to Eton — he throws himself to the floor because he thinks the celebratory firecrackers are a terrorist attack. Arriving on official business in Seoul, he greets the Korean delegation drenched in loo water because he couldn’t understand the buttons on “the most complicated lavatory he has ever seen”. Yeah, that’s right. Cameron had the pick of the intake, but the person he spends most of his time texting is stupider than a toilet.

What was Cameron doing filling his party with Old Etonians? It is almost touching to read how Dave, in an attempt to appear socially concerned, wanted to fill the top ranks with “ethnic” women who have “a good back story”, only to find himself falling back on the honkers he really feels comfortable with, like Swire, who, having been appointed some kind of minister in a teeny job at the Foreign Office, tells his staff he wants visiting his office “to be like walking into Mussolini’s office in 1941 — formal double-door openings”.

No wonder the party is broken; no wonder membership is plummeting and Boris Johnson can’t do better than the crepuscular Matt Hancock as health secretary. Why would anyone good be drawn to politics if the best (tiny) jobs were going to men who demand their wives call them “minister” and slept through the night of the EU referendum?

Cameron himself comes across as the prime minister that never was, a great hole of PR nothingness. He is a man whose first thought on seeing a barn is: put in a snooker table. He is superficial and naff — “so home counties”, as Swire herself might put it.

These are seriously empty people, for whom appearance and lifestyle are everything. You have only to look at the weird things they eat (strawberry fool, vongole, chocolate brownies with shredded beetroot — all at once) and the weird people they desperately hang out with (Martina Navratilova and Michael Barrymore) to know they are suffering some kind of colossal identity crisis. It says everything about their world that the diarist they get is a sex-obsessed, frothy, social-climbing, unfulfilled Tory matron who shrieks about the menopause at Chequers. Even John Major got Alan Clark.

People with a genuine interest in politics are scorned as weirdos — George Osborne is seen as peculiar for being fascinated by it and wanting to stay on after the referendum. Gove is attacked as a “radical” and “iconoclast”, the Hooray’s way of saying “lower middle class”. Dave himself is so wet — a lover of Poirot — that at one point Swire asks him: “Are you actually a Conservative, Dave?” You finish the book wondering if the best thing to come out of Brexit is the fact that we are now free of these poseurs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.