DUNCAN BARKES PR disasters dish up fresh elitism images

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The prime minister and some of his cabinet colleagues have an image problem that needs urgent attention. Currently perceived as out-of-touch posh boys with seemingly no idea of how the real world operates or what matters to ordinary people, this mob have just been through one of the worst months for public relations since coming to power.

And just to underline the fact they are superior to the rest of us mere mortals, they almost talk another language. Bandying around terms like ‘kitchen suppers’ (that’s dinner or tea to you and me) you can bet your life they don’t serve up pasties in their swanky granite worktop-furnished kitchens. No, far better to tax the humble pasty; a staple of the working-class diet. Oh, and while they’re about it (presumably decided over coffee and petit fours), they slap a granny tax on pensioners, making some four million of them worse off.

Revelations that the PM went horse riding with Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of The Sun; news that Osborne holidays in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Klosters; Gove wanting to stop parents taking their children out of school during termtime which will deprive them of an annual affordable holiday; Maude’s recent braying about ‘kitchen suppers’ (I say, Jeeves!) – all this paints a picture of exclusivity many of us simply cannot identify with.

The past four weeks have shown how out of step the Tories are with the challenges and hopes of millions of hardworking families. The Conservative party used to have a reputation for understanding aspiration and rewarding hard work, but not any more. It used to be the party of law and order, but with Kenneth Clarke as justice secretary it is as lame and feeble as a geriatric three-legged nag.

Times are tough and most intelligent people understand the urgent need to reduce public spending, but it becomes a very bitter pill to swallow when the Chancellor announces things like the granny tax or the pasty tax, especially when we are pumping millions into overseas aid and Euro bailouts through the International Monetary Fund.

Tories I talk to at a grass-roots level are frustrated with their leader and some of his policies.

They feel the Conservative party is no longer the party of true conservative values and the excuse that compromise is the result of being in coalition is wearing extremely thin.

If David Cameron wants his party to win the next general election then he has some work to do.

A reshuffle, promoting some fresh faces to ministerial positions or to the Cabinet would be a start, ideally those who became MPs in 2005 and 2010 and who entered politics having previously worked in the real world and who understand life outside of Westminster.

This has to include more women and people with regional accents to prove there is more to the Tories than the elite of Eton and Oxbridge. Such talent exists within the party and if Dave has half a brain he will tap into it, pronto.

From policies to personalities, the Conservative Party needs a kick up the backside and a radical image overhaul. Failure to do so will be the downfall of these posh boys.

** Chance to meet an alpaca called Vicky

This Saturday I will be heading to the Aldingbourne Country Centre for their family fun day.

As well as an array of animals to get up close to (Mrs B has the huge honour of having one of the centre’s alpacas named after her!) there will be all sorts of fun and activities taking place. The cakes are also out of this world.

For more details about the day visit www.aldingbournetrust.co.uk