Yesterday David Cameron was a mouse, and today he’s a chambermaid, according to another one of his imaginative backbench MPs. Brian Binley, the Conservative MP for Northampton South, has written a fierce blog in which he tells David Cameron that he doesn’t need a reshuffle that will simply amount to ‘re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’: he needs a change in direction and a re-think.
Binley attacks the way the Prime Minister relates to the Liberal Democrats in government, saying:
My point is that Mr Cameron should never have hitched his star to any of the self-indulgent lunacy that has been characteristic of the unreasonable demands of his coalition partners. It was always going to fail, and has created unnecessary distance between him and the country. Why did he not put his foot down and assert his position, firstly, as Prime Minister, and secondly, as leader of the Conservative party? What are his true priorities? It seems that appeasing the childish tit-for-tat approach to politics that is the entire Liberal Democrat mindset has dominated his thoughts for far too long. The country needs a full-time Prime Minister and not a chamber-maid for a marginal, irrelevant pressure group who have got him in a virtual arm-lock with a constant stream of threats to abandon ship.
He also accuses Cameron of ‘treating his backbenchers and his party as an unnecessary inconvenience’.
Now, this sort of name-calling makes a nice little recess story in itself. But it’s what Binley proposes next that is really interesting. He says that the reshuffle should enable Cameron to ‘deliver policies that will create prosperity’. He says:
If that means abandoning Vince Cable, or upsetting the balance in Clegg’s clandestine playground, so be it.
So Binley is suggesting not just reshuffling the Business Secretary as a sort of shot back across the bows at Lord Oakeshott, who wants Cable to be promoted to Chancellor, but also ‘upsetting the balance’, which suggests fewer Liberal Democrat ministers at the top in order to push more Tory policies through. This is even less likely to happen than Clegg’s wealth tax that he’s been touting today. But it’s another page in the dossier of evidence that suggests the Prime Minister is going to seriously struggle with his own party over the next few months.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.