Conference season would benefit from panto sparkle

COMMENT: The return of good weather shouldn’t bring dread

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As we approach the season of goodwill it’s time to consider whether politics could learn a thing or two from the traditional Christmas pantomime.

We’ve already been battered around the heads by the Labour and Lib Dem party conferences and both were so boring and predictable that a little showbiz glitter is most definitely overdue.

Fear not, the Conservatives are up next and they’re always good for a laugh. So if they act now, there’s still time to turn it around.

The problem with party conferences is that, without exception, they are so flipping dull.

Despite the fact that it’s just a glorified chance for the party faithful to stand on a stage and chant sound bites – and the leader’s speech is always leaked a day before anyway – our TV news crews insist on giving these love-ins wall-to-wall coverage.

But as the Tories land in Birmingham for the start of today’s matinee and evening performances, I hope they’ve got a few pantomime tricks up their sleeves.

Sadly, chief whip Andrew Mitchell has already been ordered to stay away, so someone else will have to jump into the back end of the cow costume. Shame because I would have paid good money to see him attempt to fight his way through Brum’s traffic without the help of his friendly local police force.

Luckily, I can think of more than a few candidates to take up the ugly sister roles, but Prince Charming will be a little harder to find.

Not to worry, the dull love interest is always easy to cast – it’s a role the leader’s wife was born to play.

Dressed up to the nines in something showy, but most definitely not designer, she’ll be led out with a full face of slap on and a glassy, glazed expression, at some point during proceedings.

Men are infuriating by nature so it’s unnatural for any woman to clasp her husband’s hand for more than five minutes before he’s bound to do something to annoy her and break the spell.

But this is a performance remember, so there’s no point in letting the facts get in the way of a good yarn, so long as it’s accompanied by plenty of boos and hisses.