Cod Almighty | Article
by Pete Green
21 July 2007
Tories deny 'Grimbarian invasion' of parliamentary party
Conservative officials moved swiftly last night to deny rumours that the parliamentary party has been infiltrated by supporters of fringe political splinter group Grimsby Town Football Club.
As Tory MPs responded to two insignificant by-election defeats this week by calling for a vote of no confidence in leader David Cameron, pundits of football and politics noted remarkable parallels with fans of the Mariners, who are also notorious for responding to the smallest of setbacks by demanding their manager be sacked.
Many Conservatives were uneasy about Cameron's appointment in 2005 but, as the party soared to its highest poll ratings for more than ten years, put aside their reservations in the hope of success at the next General Election.
Similarly, Town supporters who hated Alan Buckley - the most successful manager in the 129-year history of the club - for having a personality and not cravenly sucking up to them in press interviews reluctantly consented to his return in 2006 as the club plummeted towards relegation from the Football League.
But the knives were out for Cameron this week - almost two years before the likely date of his first chance to fight a General Election - after an inevitable slip in the polls following Gordon Brown's accession as Prime Minister, together with defeat in the Sedgefield and Ealing Southall by-elections, which they never had a cat in hell's chance of winning in the first place.
And a brief run of poor form last winter had some GTFC followers calling for Buckley's head on a plate - despite his having been installed as manager just weeks previously and inheriting a patently inadequate squad.
As it was, the 56-year-old manager survived to lead the Mariners to a respectable 15th-place finish, but when Buckley returned to the helm the club had already worked its way through five managers since he was last sacked in 2000. And should rebel MPs succeed in toppling Cameron, the infamously fickle Tory party will need to elect a fifth new leader since John Major stepped down in 1997.
Party insiders reveal that the names in the frame to replace Cameron are shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Tory policy director Oliver Letwin, shadow Foreign Secretary and former leader William Hague, and Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, party officials continue to deny that Town fans are taking over the Tories. A Conservative Central Office spokesperson said today: "Tory MPs and Grimsby Town fans may both be fantastically spineless and ridiculously impatient, with an amazing inability to learn the lessons of the immediate past, but rumours of a Grimsby infiltration of the Conservative Party are nothing more than idle speculation. This is crap, Tories - we should be beating these by a landslide. Booooooo, sort it Camerons."