Where the nasty party surfs

Observations on websites

Tory MPs' websites have long been the subject of hilarity. From the mildly unsettling www.annwiddecombemp.com (carrying pictures of Ann on Celebrity Fat - sorry - Fit Club) to www.michaelportillo.co.uk, which has the Tory wild card's CV animated and set to mock-baroque music, it seemed that the electronic Conservative politician could go no lower. Wrong. Some time in 2001 the back-room gang at Conservative Central Office acquired broadband, and ever since then teenage Tory pointy-heads have been on the rampage.

Perhaps the most disturbing of the new breed of sites is www.electricreview.com, published by Christopher Montgomery, who worked on Iain Duncan Smith's campaign with Bunny Smedley, who is listed as the arts editor.

The site claims to be "a high Tory review of politics, art and literature" born out of the frustration that the Spectator is the only right-wing Conservative magazine, whereas the left boasts numerous publications. Apparently this ". . . reflects the splendid talent of the left for fratricidal factionalism but . . . also points up the collapse of thinking on the right".

Although Montgomery is prone to bashing out rather inconsequential commentary - a recent piece was a cool 5,000 words on Toryism at Peterhouse College, Cambridge - other articles include more relevant diatribe. Typically, the case for Barry Legg as chief executive of the Conservative Party was put in a recent edition: "Anyone who has had dealings with Barry Legg will know that if the party is finally to cut back on its own waste, there can be no better man than him."

There is little mention of the world of politics beyond Smith Square. And opinions come thick and fast, with the emphasis on the thick. The fictional diary of a 29-year-old Tory MP called Honor Black churns out judgements on most things, including women in the armed forces: "If men want to do it . . . let them get on with it. After all, we have to give birth."

The website seems rooted in the belief that the right has won the economic battle but lost the social one. Thus it includes reviews on subjects as diverse as ITV2 and Picasso, with the predictable conclusion: pop culture is generally deplorable.

Bunny and Christopher may be among the people Theresa May had in mind when she referred to the Tories as "the nasty party". The website is certainly sufficiently venomous. Gavin Barwell (party aide) merits the nickname "Hamster Face, for indeed his visage is hamsterish", while Stuart Jackson is criticised for his "estuarine" accent. Similarly, Caroline Noakes, the Tory woman chosen to fight the key seat of Romsey, has been described as "not necessarily the sharpest nail-file in the beauty salon".

A word of caution: this online magazine still needs to work on getting right the names of the True Blues' favourite haunts. One contributor is described as follows: "After the noble enterprise of the Redwood '95 campaign, Johnny Leavesley worked for Conservative 2000; he now alternates between the West Midlands and Wil-ton's." As they should well know, there is no apostrophe in Wiltons.