There is a rather furious backlash underway against the backlash that Grant Shapps finds himself in the middle of after his bingo gaffe. Supporters of the Tory Chairman suspect he has been stitched up in some way. I understand that the graphic was emailed out to a number of tweeting MPs who all tweeted it at roughly the same time – Shapps was the first. And as Chairman, he has to take the flak. Others privately suspect that other ministers who are after his job are responsible for briefings such as this one to the Sun that he could lose his job if the Tories take a drubbing in the European elections.
The Sun story is interesting because the person briefing it assumes that vengeful right wing Tories would automatically blame Shapps, when in fact there are as many who have been reassured by the work that he has done since taking the role in 2012 as those who dislike him. I know two who were on the verge of sending letters demanding a leadership contest to 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady, but haven’t, citing Shapps’ work in improving the message discipline of the party as one of the key reasons. One fan says:
‘Grant’s enemies forget that a lot of MPs are grateful to him for campaign visits and rubber chicken dinners – his enemies have no charm or friends.’
Then again, some right-wing Conservatives have nicknamed him ‘Grant Yapps’ because they think he’s all mouth and no trousers. But if Shapps lost his job because of the backlash over the bingo picture, then the PM would find himself with another right-wing backlash on his hands. The Tory party is never dull, is it?
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.