Coffee House

Tory backbench beats Lib Dems in battle of PM’s priorities

3 August 2012

2:04 PM

3 August 2012

2:04 PM

Let’s forget for a minute about the Lib Dems and their dire threats of ‘consequences’ for the failure of the Lords Reform Bill and focus on the Conservative party. David Cameron has failed to convince his party to support the legislation. He said he needed the summer to try to win the rebels round before he tabled a new programme motion for the Bill, and before the summer is even out, he has decided that he can’t do it.

This isn’t just about a hardcore of Conservative MPs who are viscerally opposed to Lords reform, though. There are those who would always have opposed it, but many others who might have been persuaded. There’s a sense that the Prime Minister tried hard towards the end of the negotiations, but by then it was just too late. Backbenchers are telling me today that it’s as much about Cameron’s party management skills as it is anything else. One backbencher who was not wholly opposed to the changes says: ‘Cameron is terrible on people management – aloof and arrogant.’ Another says the Prime Minister has poor interpersonal skills: though he can switch on the charm in front of a camera, he is very bad at sitting down with an MP, making them feel loved, and selling his position to them.


The other problem was while the boundary reforms are terrible for the Lib Dems and advantageous for the Conservative party, they are not sufficiently advantageous to tempt them to support changes to the upper chamber.

But Cameron has conceded to his backbench and regardless of what this says about how forceful he is when negotiating, some of the committed rebels are pleased that at least he is pandering to their demands rather than Nick Clegg’s. Perhaps he realised that it was more important to win the rebels round to him as Conservative leader than it was to win them round to supporting Lords reform. Conor Burns, who resigned as a PPS to vote against the second reading of the Bill, says: ‘If this is happening, it’s very welcome news and will be a symbol of his determination to try to foster improved and friendly relations within the Conservative party as well.’

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Show comments
  • David Ossitt

    “But, intriguingly, I understand that David Cameron does not
    intend to abandon efforts to get the boundary reforms through. This, as Isabel
    noted this morning, has the potential to cause a massive coalition
    row. One Lib Dem minister told me earlier that Cameron would be ‘killing’ Nick
    Clegg if he tried to force Liberal Democrat ministers not to vote against the
    boundary changes.”

    These duplicitous bastards; asked for and were given the AV
    referenda in return for their support on boundary reforms, there was little general
    support for AV and the result of the referenda were overwhelming in rejecting
    this LibDem nonsense.

    Now that they are at it again trying to fix a system (Lords
    Wrecking) that would give them a balance of power far beyond that, that the
    voting figures would warrant, now that this will be rejected they wish to renege
    on their agreement with regard to boundary reforms.

    Janus-faced slimeballs one and all.

  • ButcombeMan

    Cameron is not “pandering to anyone’s demands”. nor is he seeking to foster improved relations. He is not even being forceful in negotiation.

    He is doing what he has to do because backbenchers have the whip hand and they more accurately reflect the feeling in the country. All the redefining marriage and Lords reform stuff is hogwash, irrelevant to the matter in hand, sorting the economy. Nothing else matters at the moment.

    If Clegg and his cohorts were really in government to help selflessly sort an economic mess, they would deserve praise, but they would not be demanding or trying to demand, concessions to their narrow agenda items.

    If Cameron had any guts or negotaition skills he would point that out to Clegg and threaten to expose the LibDems for what they are, a monstrously irrelevant narrow interest group with little & diminishing support in the country.

  • duyfken

    ” Another says the Prime Minister has poor interpersonal skills: though
    he can switch on the charm in front of a camera, he is very bad at
    sitting down with an MP, making them feel loved, and selling his
    position to them.”

    Well, I’m dashed, he does have some integrity then.

  • Coffeehousewall

    How was anything proposed a ‘reform’? It was a change certainly, but a reform must be to make something better, and there was and is no evidence that these proposals were intended to make the House of Lords work better. They were and are intended only to support the endeavours of the LibDems and other failed politicians to suck at the public teat for as long as possible and with as little public interference as possible.

    They are not reforms. Try writing something which analyses the proposals and the objections to them rather than what has been properly described here as tittle-tattle.

  • Halcyondaze2

    More guff. We know Cameron is a slippery PR man – that he is rude and useless at people management is hardly a surprise. Frankly any Conservative MP with principle will have seen straight through Cameron some time ago just like the majority of Conservative voters. If they’ve got any sense they’ll be looking at replacing hiim as soon as possible with a leader who is actually a Conservative and who is willing to stand up and stick their neck out to defend our dying country, not someone who will do and say anything merely to prolong their time in power while furthering the aims and ambitions of the clique of trendy metropolitan progressives they sourround themselves with.

    • Michael990

      Correct, but you should have put ‘progressives’ in inverted commas. Nothing the left wing does is ‘progressive’, although in their deluded state they seem to think their actions are.

  • tele_machus

    he is very bad at sitting down with an MP, making them feel loved, and selling his position to them
    Is it possible to love a tory MP?

    • pbuser224

      Why would you want to love ANY MP? The purpose of MP’s is to design and implement legislation for the benefit of the majority of people in the country. It’s very unlikely that the difficult decisions that responsibility throws up will make them popular, much less loved.

      P.S. do try and lay of the tribalism, it makes you appear ever so slightly stupid.

  • Publius

    Sorry, Miss Hardman, but much as I have come to despise Cameron, I am not interested in anonymous tittle-tattle from people too gutless to stick their heads above the parapet.

    • tele_machus

      More sanctimonious guff, Publius
      This is worse than on the Lords thread 2 ago
      Tittle tattle is the staff of political life
      I suppose you may not have found it so on Mars

    • Alan Eastwood

      Publius. Well said, but isn’t it a little hypocritical?

      • Publius

        That crossed my mind, Alan Eastwood. But I’m not an MP. They’re big enough self-publicists when it suits them.