As a rider to my last post, I've just read and enjoyed Andrew Rawnsley writing in today's Observer:
It has been one of David Cameron's best insights about the Conservative party that it is not going to be more attractive to 21st-century Britain until it starts to look more like 21st-century Britain. He is a middle-aged, white old Etonian. He wants and needs a Tory party that looks and sounds a lot less like him.
George Osborne celebrated the growth of websites and online political networks originating from Conservative quarters. Rawnsley, commenting on the sacking of Patrick Mercer:
In the wake of the sacking, I've cruised around a few Conservative blogs. It's dirty work, but someone has got to do it on your behalf. There's a lot of Tory fury that Colonel Mercer was taken out and shot. Opinion is running heavily in sympathy with the MP for Newark and strongly against David Cameron, who is accused of sacrificing 'a good man' to the forces of 'political correctness gone mad', to quote one of the less rabid contributions in the right-wing blogosphere. This illustrates what the Tory leader is up against. Large chunks of his party cannot grasp either the reasons of principle or the imperatives of politics that meant Patrick Mercer had to be removed from the Tory front bench.
And I don't think there's much to add to this:
Is he [Patrick Mercer] a racist? He says not. His colleagues say not. More significantly, some black soldiers who served with Colonel Mercer say they don't regard him as a racist either. What we can say for definite is that he is an industrial-grade idiot. He was plain wrong to suggest that black soldiers should put up with being racially abused as par for the course in the army. He sounded just ludicrous when he claimed that soldiers with red hair were more likely to suffer from abuse than members of ethnic minorities. He displayed fully saturated stupidity by suggesting there's no difference between being called a 'ginger bastard' and being called a 'black bastard'. There are no known organisations dedicated to inciting hatred against people with red hair.
George Osborne clearly gets the digital age. About the Mercer affair, Rawnsley concludes that 'David Cameron gets it. His problem is that many in his party still don't get it at all.' Two people an electable political party do not make.