Chris Moncreiff - in politics

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The Tory support for their candidate in this week’s Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election has been, some would say, virtually non-existent.

But there is a reason for David Cameron’s apparent disinterest in his own candidate.

Pity the poor Conservative candidate.

It seems even the Prime Minister does not even want him to win.

And indeed Mr Cameron effectively gave the Liberal Democrat candidate a fair wind at the start of the campaign.

Conservative MPs were not urged to visit the constituency to drum up Tory support, while Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrat henchmen have been campaigning tirelessly and endlessly for their candidate. Well, there is a method in the Prime Minister’s “madness”.

Since the formation of the coalition, the Liberal Democrats’ rating in the opinion polls has plunged disastrously.

And Mr Cameron fears if the Lib Dems do badly on Thursday in this seat, narrowly held by Labour at the general election, then Clegg’s position as Deputy Prime Minister could be, if not in danger, at least seriously compromised.

The Lib Dems were only 100 or so votes behind Labour on May 6, since when the victor Phil Woolas has been booted out for telling lies about his Liberal Democrat opponent during the campaign.

And it would be a serious jolt for the coalition Government if Labour (as is being predicted) retained the seat and if the Lib Dems slumped badly. Mr Cameron sees no hope of the Tories winning, so he (as his critics would allege) has virtually abandoned the Tory hopeful and left him blowing in the wind.

They will be holding their breath in Downing Street this week.

n The activities of the European Union grow more monstrous as each day passes. The latest scandal is that 2,000 Brussels officials, who get paid up to £185,000 a year, have been allowed to take three months off work on full pay.

And did their absence make the slightest difference to anything? I very much doubt it.

Why doesn’t the British Government do something about this cavalier waste of public money? I would suggest that a substantial majority of these 2,000 need not be employed at all.

Indeed, I doubt whether anyone would notice much, or indeed any, difference if these ludicrous non-jobs were abolished overnight.

No wonder the auditors, year after year, refuse to ratify the EU’s ludicrous financial arrangements.

The MEPs themselves, and their officials, spend money as though it was growing on trees. The unelected commissioners, some of them failed or third-rate politicians in their own countries, swamp member states with unwanted “legislation” – yet nobody does a thing about it.

Tory peer Lord Tebbit the other day went as far as he dare to back the United Kingdom Independence Party in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election without actually saying “Vote UKIP”.

So far this Government and its Labour predecessor have broken pledges to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

David Cameron should be warned that the British people won’t tolerate for much longer this disgraceful habit of breaking promises.