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Coffee House

Tory MP attacks Cameron for allowing party to become ’emaciated’

30 November 2012

5:20 PM

30 November 2012

5:20 PM

Brian Binley is fond of giving journalists new ideas for illustrations featuring David Cameron’s head superimposed onto a new and unusual get-up: his ‘chambermaid‘ allusion caused quite a stir back in August. Today he’s written another one of his angry blog posts, which takes his criticism of the Prime Minister on a little further. Today the Prime Minister is a caretaker, apparently, and one who isn’t taking great care of his party.

Binley describes the Conservative party as being ‘in a very sorry state’, and launches an attack on Cameron for setting his face against his own party. He writes:

Having been our leader for the last seven years, David Cameron has, too often, chosen to set himself against his party, and the generally poor state of morale amongst local activists is increasingly reflected in ever more depressing election results. The recent appointment of Lynton Crosby offers some hope that the party is being opened up a bit more, and is a sign of encouragement.

But despite this one step in the right direction, the Prime Minister has proven to be a rather disappointing custodian of our party. His decision to describe his personal commitment to gay marriage at the 2011 party conference as not being despite his political convictions, but rather in consequence of these has driven a dangerous wedge between Mr Cameron and his activists. In the fifteen months since that speech, that divide has grown wider. The irony that, in making those comments, he was expressing the value that he attached to inter-personal commitments is not lost on many of those party members who, in frustration, feel that they have had enough: our leader has presented himself as detached, with his threat to drive various policies through irrespective of the concerns of the wider political family imperilling our chances in 2015.

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There’s more. Binley says that the Conservative political machine is suffering from ’emaciation’, and that Cameron’s ‘own prospects look increasingly fragile’. He calls on the Prime Minister to change course, partly by listening to those outside his trusted inner circle:

I believe that it is only by drawing breath, changing course, and reconciling with the widest possible right-thinking audience that the Prime Minister can avert that car crash. He – and his circle – needs to recognise that they do not have all the right answers, all of the time. They also need to acknowledge that good management is vital to the process, and that particular commodity has often been in short supply. The Conservative support base has a lot more to offer than the cabal hidden away in the bunker around the leadership have been willing to engage with to date. Trust us, David, we really do need (and want) to win the next election: and, what’s more, if you can find a way to work with your own party, we can still do it.

The Conservative party’s dismal showing in yesterday’s by-elections won’t have helped this impression of ’emaciation’, or party morale, either. As Jonathan blogged earlier, it may have added to the case circulated at the start of this week by Michael Fabricant for a UKIP pact. That was given short shrift, both in public and in meetings between senior Tories throughout the week, I understand. But Binley’s point is one that has been made by many others: Fraser criticised Cameron in June for operating a ‘chumocracy’. As the party turns towards 2015, the Prime Minister will find more and more advice coming his way from his backbench, and from more senior members of his party, too.

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