Dedicated followers

All faithful Tory foot soldiers are heading for the nearest bar

The Conservative foot soldiers are shattered, and the troops will soon know the results of their labour. A lot of worn-in Church's shoes and disagreeable weather over the past few months has made it a hard slog. For the first time in more than a decade, a young Tory bunch, particularly in London, hit the streets to campaign and some even enjoyed it. A nicely dressed whoop of Tories were particularly pleased that a couple of staff members from the Gap on Chelsea's King's Road left their posts beside the folded T-shirts to emerge into Saturday's sunshine and give the Boris cavalcade a cheer.

It has been a chance for the fresher Tories to experience an optimistic election. They are a certain type of Tory, and they wear the "We were Tory before you were even considering it, mate" badge with an air of superiority. They point this out and discuss it a lot, a bit like haughty REM fans who like only "the early stuff, ten years before the ridiculous B-52s collaboration", or irritating nine-year-olds who liked Arctic Monkeys when they were available on download only. They are hoping their loyalty and dedication will be rewarded now and in years to come with appearances on the A-list or in cabinet.

A few of them, to prove their dedication, have given up alcohol for the past eight weeks, and were looking forward to "getting thoroughly ratted" on Friday night. If any motionless bodies clad in Diesel jeans and Converse shoes are found in Pimlico in the early hours of Saturday morning they are not dead: it's just Tory-Lite recovering from a really big one at the Thomas Cubitt bar on Elizabeth Street.

The Boris brigade, whether in power or not, are planning a day off. His two PR gurus, Jo Tanner and Katie Perrior, have had little sleep for weeks. Tanner, who is heavily pregnant, gives birth any day now and Perrior, who is 30 years old on Saturday, intends to hit Leicester Square. Perrior fans are hoping for a rendition of her party piece, a convincing (with actions) performance of George Michael's "Faith", an anthem she has kept close during a volatile campaign.

At the time of printing, it is impossible to say whether or not Boris will be sitting in City Hall, though in many ways the Boris v Ken show could be the least interesting result. The more telling question is: Have the Tories been able to break through in the north?

Meanwhile, on the BBC's Today programme, John Humphrys interviewed David Cameron and pointed out the possibility of a future prime minister and London mayor who were both members of Oxford University's Bullingdon Club. He asked about the Bullingdon photo featuring the Tory leader and Boris. The public reaction to the pompous picture was, to put it mildly, one of distaste, and it is something that Cameron no doubt will have to deal with again.

It does, however, appear absurd to judge people by their hormonally charged undergraduate photographs. There is a snap of Tony Blair at Oxford in a blazer and a straw boater looking quite unusual. He is surrounded by a group of fragile boys who would give the Bullingdon Club a run for their money in the misguided youth stakes. There are a few photos of Gordon Brown in his early years with long hair, looking like he needs a good wash, resembling a grubby member of Slade. William Hague would undoubtedly hand over a year's worth of after-dinner speech money if he thought footage of him speaking at a party conference as a teenager could go missing.

Is it healthy not to have done something embarrassing? Should the person running the country be the sort whose path into adulthood had them waking up every morning wondering if their actions were fitting of a prime minister? Brief moments of mistaken lack of dignity can only make us stronger.

This article first appeared in the 05 May 2008 issue of the New Statesman, High-street robbery