The Tory Party is by some distance the least important political institution in Northern Ireland. It has a paid-up membership of some 600, or rather less than 0.05 per cent of the 1.3 million-strong electorate. At the last general election, its share of the vote was 0.7 per cent. In the elections to the Stormont Assembly, held in May, it fared even worse, scoring a mere 0.3 per cent. Out of a total of 462 local councillors, just one is a Conservative, a vet born in Carlisle and raised in Dumfries.