The Clarkson-shaped hole in our Chablis strategy

Clarkson has more input into current Tory thinking than most members of the shadow cabinet

My miserable run of luck re: placement continued unabated as last Friday, at one of Dave and George's We're Just Like You, Really soirées, I found myself wedged between Philip Hammond and Tracey Emin. What Hammond was doing at the summer highlight of the "Chablis campaign" to bring the arty crowd on board is anyone's guess. Far from welcoming, he is hell-bent on taking on the role of hatchet man and becoming a national hate figure in exchange for a place in the cabinet.

Mind you, Hammond has always been odd. The kind of person who, if present at the Bullingdon head-bumping of Osborne, would have refrained from doing the up-and-down work in order to free things up so he could film the proceedings. Not, it must be stressed, for blackmail purposes, but simply for his own personal enjoyment. He is, by the by, also a very limited conversationalist.

Emin, as you are probably aware, is an artist. She suffers, if anything, from too much conversation - very little of it comprehensible, and even less of it credible. She claims George, still soft in the head after all these years, has bought some of what she described as her "oeuvre". Not the kind of investment one would necessarily be looking for from a putative chancellor during the age of austerity. Having talked at length about her "oeuvre", Emin moved seamlessly into talking about her love life, asking: "Does Dave fancy me?" "No," I replied.

Artists are surely best treated like children. The more you pamper them, the more generally difficult they become. Ignore them, however, and they will do anything, no matter how demeaning, to attract your attention. Seen in this light, our Chablis campaign is flawed. We should feign ignorance of their work, such as it is. We should wait for them to crawl to us. After all, they need us more than we need them, as they will discover when they see Hammond's tax plans.

My poor placement was overly prolonged by the starters being delayed for nearly two hours while we waited for Jeremy Clarkson to drive Dave and Chloe back from Norwich. Clarkson, who to my mind has always been the definitive minor public school boy, has somehow wheedled matters to become a confidant to Cameron, his bluff (and it is a bluff) no-sense approach not preventing him from being seen as an Everyman by Coulson, Wade and the Murdoch mafia. They think proximity to "Mr Top Gear" will enable Dave to come across as reassuringly blokeish. They think the electorate will look favourably upon a candidate's association with a man in thrall to the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment of his own show. They must be deluded.

Yet such is their sway that their man Clarkson, so solipsistic that he considers the fact that he Clarkson has to wear a jumper in July invalidates decades of research into global warming, has more input into current Tory thinking than most members of the shadow cabinet. These days it's all Clarkson'n'Chloe, celebs'n'clones.

And in the short term, so shallow are the times, this might comprise a winning electoral strategy. But when David is in power and Clarkson is off filming Top Gear: the Movie and Chloe is busy doing her GCSEs, David will discover very swiftly that, in order to get things done, he needs the support of the rump on the back benches more than his friends in Notting Hill Gate. And that support will come at a price. An old-fashioned traditional Tory price.