But worry not, Uppalians! Here he is, emerging from the woodwork in the most august of Tory company. For lo! David Cameron, fearful of the wrath of his own party – many of whom think he's a slippery customer with less concern for their needs than a cat for its fleas – has announced a new Conservative Policy Board. Drawing on the wide experience and varied background of his MPs, the board is to be led by one Jo Johnson: white, male, Boris's brother, attended Eton, Oxford and joined the Bullingdon Club just like David. And George. And Boris. So another bold move towards diversity there. Who else is on this panel of Gargoyles? Peter Lilley, arch-Thatcherite, oil company director, foe of climate science and all-round bad egg (John Major referred to him as a 'bastard'). Jesse Norman, who passes for an intellectual in the Tory Party, which is like being the tallest dwarf. A bunch of other no-marks, and finally, Paul Uppal
who accompanied the prime minister on his recent visit to the Golden Temple in AmritsarWhat's Paul's qualification? Is it his shining intellect? Is it his fierce independence of mind and political courage? I think not. I'm sad to say that the Guardian's explanation of who he is (apparently some people don't read Plashing Vole) unconsciously hits the spot. Fine individual our Paul may be, but I rather suspect that he serves another purpose. You may not have noticed, but Dave's mates all seem to be… how shall I put this?… rather pale. They're all white, rich, aging and virtually all men. He needs, says Central Office, some minority friends. Nobody who'll scare the horses with, you know, opinions. Just somebody who'll make the photos look a bit more diverse. When we say 'all your friends are Etonians', you can point at Paul, with his poor degree from Warwick University, a man who speculated his way to millions rather than inheriting it, and brush off the critics.
When you're running a de facto racist administration, you need some minority faces to sell the policy. Labour did the same: whenever an Iraqi was tortured, a refugee was sent off to his death by the immigration agency, or civil liberties were withdrawn for minority groups, up popped Vaz, Malik, Khan and a small band of other careerists.
And so we arrive at Paul. He's Asian. He holds (with a majority of 691) a grubby constituency which doesn't look like Surrey. He'll do. The fact that he's a grovelling loyalist without even the evolutionary ancestor of a spine is an added bonus. He knows which way his bread's buttered. He can make speeches claiming to represent Sikhs, ethnic minorities and urban Conservatives all the way to 2015. Then he'll lose his seat and get a place in the House of Lords, subsidised for the rest of his life while he makes self-serving and let's say 'inaccurate' pronouncements on all and sundry.
Everyone's a winner. Except the country, obviously.
Thanks to Ali Brown, who spotted Paul's elevation at 6 a.m. this morning and writes an excellent blog.