James Forsyth

Cat-flap, day five

Cat-flap, day five
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‘Cat-flap’ is the story that just won’t go away. A report in today’s Guardian claims that the whole story may have been lifted from a speech made by Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party. One colleague of May’s tells the paper that "Not only has Ms May been caught out making up stories about the Human Rights Act for cheap laughs, she has been plagiarising her clap lines from the UK Independence party."

In the grand scheme of things, this is hardly the most serious charge. There’s just enough truth to the cat anecdote for May to have some ground to stand on and most Tories, understandably, want to see the Human Right Act scrapped.

But the trouble that May has had over the cat claim does illustrate something about the changing nature of party conferences. With fewer and fewer activists attending, there is less reward to playing the traditional conference game of serving up crowd pleasing lines. I suspect ministers will be a bit more cautious with their rhetoric next year.