Ever since the 1997 iteration of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair swatted them aside with his TV grin, D:Ream optimism and luscious, full head of hair, the Conservative party has been searching for their own Promised One: a charismatic leader fit for the media age who can win over the young and convince the electorate there are other reasons to vote for them besides fear, greed and wanting things to be more like they used to be.
They found a wonky sort of a solution in David Cameron, the huskie-bothering, gay-tolerating moderniser who - at least - was young and owned a comb, making him an instant upgrade on the Hague-Smith-Howard trifecta of naff, old Toriness that limbed through the party leadership during the New Labour golden years. For the first time in decades, the Conservatives had a figurehead who didn't look like he'd make an inappropriate comment about the intern forty minutes into the office Christmas party, which was progress of a sort.
But Cameron returned the Tories to power by convincing everyone a global recession happened because Gordon Brown was too nice to immigrants, not because he himself was particularly charming or brilliant, before pissing his career away anyway on a high stakes gamble with the future of European prosperity. His innate sense of entitlement was so powerful he risked the security of the planet to try and make his day job a little bit less irritating, and had to resign in shame as a result. But even before that, no one, besides perhaps a smattering of 'young Tories', particularly believed in him or liked him.
In the background, always, was Boris Johnson - the Tefal Tory who could ride out any scandal by tripping over a dustbin and muttering a random three-syllable entry from the 1886 Oxford Dictionary he keeps next to his bed. A living, breathing Beano character, he seemed destined to lead the Conservatives to likability as the acceptable face and hair of outrageous Toriness. But he got inpatient, and arrogant. He pretended to think Brexit was a good idea in an embarrassingly transparent CV polishing exercise, lied to and fucked over most of the country and accidentally revealing too much of the howling Tory within. He's still out there, performing as our club mascot overseas, but the spell Boris once held over British public has gone forever.
Which brings us to the latest Great Hope of Tory Likability - Jacob Rees-Mogg. Like Boris, he's quick-witted and authentically, unabashedly posh. He's only 48 but is nicknamed "the honourable member for the early 20th century" for his amusingly antiquated demeanor. He's good on the telly - which is to say he's arrogant and self-assured enough to tell an interviewer to shut up if he doesn't like a question - he has a funny name that reminds you a bit of a cat and wears amusing Demon Headmaster glasses. He also has around thirty children, meaning Jacob Rees-Mogg is the first Conservative politician in living history anyone can believe actually has sex.
So far so good! But alas, the Rees-Mogg bandwagon derailed this week before it even got started. Appearing on Good Morning Britain, he introduced himself formally to voters beyond the Westminster bubble by making it clear he doesn't support gay marriage and opposes abortion under any circumstances, a set of views that puts him roughly to the right of your Great Grandmother after four sherries. His chances of making the Tories likeable to anyone except the worst gremlins in their own ranks now stands at roughly zero.
Which leaves them where? For now, stuck with Theresa May, a woman barely convincing enough to work the cloakroom at a railway museum ("No thanks," you'd tell her, clutching your coat, smiling sympathetically, "I think I'll just hold onto it. Hope you're... you just take care, won't you? Bye"). The only emotion she's likely to elicit for the Tory party beyond contempt is pity when her quivering, Gaudi mouth finally cracks open during a routine TV interview and emits a long wail of pent-up agony, like a fornicating fox.
After trying and failing to find anyone genuinely likeable for so many decades, the Tories may eventually decide their best bet is to back a Trump-like outsider who will "say the unsayable" and "stand up to PC brigade", someone with a rough charm and going-for-a-pint appeal to secret bigots. That someone, of course, has been staring them in the face for decades: none other than human earthworm Nigel Farage. He's no Tony Blair, but then look how well having a likeable leader worked out for Labour long term. Maybe what both parties should really be looking for is not likability but competency. But who's going to make a meme out of that?