Say what you like about UKIP, they are nothing if not a conservative organization.  When the party gathered for their annual conference in the traditional resort of Doncaster in the second half of the week, all the usual elements were on display. These included bitter factionalism, being rude to Douglas Carswell and pictures of Nigel Farage chuckling while enjoying a pint. There may be a careworn element to these tropes nowadays – survey evidence indicates that three blind children in a mountain village in Afghanistan are the last people on the planet not to have seen video footage of Nigel Farage drinking at a pub – but they fit the party as comfortably as instinctive xenophobia and a persecution complex.

For a brief time after the election UKIP tried turning the formula round: being rude about Nigel Farage and transmitting pictures of Douglas Carswell drinking a pint. That, however, did not work at all. It certainly didn’t seem to suit Mr Carswell, whose place in a party that appears to resent him for being its sole member of Parliament, is looking increasingly tenuous.  According to Arron Banks, UKIP’s chief money man and the wannabe leader of the “Leave.EU” campaign, Mr Carswell is “borderline autistic with mental illness issues wrapped in”. To be fair, this is only mild criticism compared to Mr Farage’s, who hinted that he thought Mr Carswell was still infected with loyalty to the Conservative Party. It is good at least to see that UKIP are not prepared to cede to the Liberal Democrats a monopoly of concern when it comes to debating matters of mental health.

The Lib Dems met for their own party conference in Bournemouth amid a tumult of apathy.  Happy to be back in opposition, the Lib Dems took their place once more upon the touchlines of carnage and atrocity, muttering to themselves about how such evil exists in the world only because an electoral system keeps them from exerting a moderating influence. Such a formula never fails to bring comfort, even in circumstances where the electoral system in question is that not many people voted for them.

Messages back from the seafront were of an upbeat gathering, attended by more of the party’s activists and well-wishers than ever before. Whether this was true in absolute numbers or only looked that way because no one else bothered to go is unclear. The teeming hundreds were regaled by a speech of impeccable dullness from the party leader Tim Farron, who talked about housing. Mr Farron is currently very exercised by the problem of homelessness.  There are literally thousands of Labour Party supporters out there who, since the election of Jeremy Corbyn, no longer have anywhere to live. If Mr Farron is to be believed, quite a few of these from the Westminster area have taken to texting the Lib Dem leader directly, asking if he could put them up.  For a party of egregious tolerance, however, the Lib Dems seem curiously reluctant to take these political migrants in. No doubt they are worried about the impact upon their unique culture of devout sanctimoniouness.

Westminster was, of course, far too distracted by Lord Ashcroft’s biography of David Cameron, Call Me Dave, to be much bothered by the Liberal Democrats’ first faltering steps back towards irritating visibility. This was so even though there was, in truth, very little of substance to report. Absent revelations of a serious nature, we learned that the Prime Minister might once have performed a sex act with a pig. This was not with the entire pig – only its head, which had become detached from the remainder of its body. Whether it would have been politer for young David to have asked the pig for a blow job while it was still alive, rather than waiting until it had been decapitated, and therefore had no say in the matter, is something that our moral guardians in the Daily Mail will be cogitating over for at least another couple of weeks. What is certain is that Cameron never offered to marry the pig, which is some sign of how standards have been in decline for the last 50 years.

It has neither been confirmed nor denied that this act of congress actually took place, though if it did it was apparently part of what the Guardian calls a “bizarre initiation ceremony” for the Piers Gaveston Society.  It is not known for certain whether Cameron at Oxford was actually a member of the “PG”. It is possible that he applied, failed the pig test and was rejected. That would be an extremely worrying scenario since inserting your penis into the mouth of a dead pig is considerably less complicated than welfare reform (one intuits), and if Mr Cameron cannot do the one, why should be entrust him to do the other? Not that we could imagine Jeremy Corbyn doing a whole lot better since presumably he would be thinking of Animal Farm the entire time. Mr Corbyn’s prescience in appointing a vegan to speak for his party on agricultural matters suddenly became apparent since we need someone who is not prepared to eat meat to state with sufficient authority that it is not appropriate to go to bed with it either,

Several thousand miles away the Chancellor of the Exchequer was kow-towing to the Chinese.  This was not because they are anticipated to have a vote in the election to choose David Cameron’s successor, although Mr Osborne is working on it (£3 a head should manage it). Absent any opportunity to buy in to party democracy, the Chinese are to be allowed to buy our nuclear power stations instead, this giving them important strategic access to the national grid.  Arriving in London, the Dalai Lama thought it was a particularly grubby deal. He had not been allowed to meet the Prime Minister, though whether this was because he was too tied up with a pork chop was not revealed.

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