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Tory malcontents’ ‘key tests’ for Cameron set PM up for failure

6 February 2013

6 February 2013

Joe Murphy has a rather amusing story in the Standard this afternoon about Tory malcontents’ latest manoeuvres against the Prime Minister. He reports several MPs saying Cameron will need to meet five key tests in order to secure his position as leader. How very democratic of them, measuring the Prime Minister’s performance against a set of targets, rather than just saying they don’t like him, or comparing him to a chambermaid.

But when you read what those targets are, you see the problem that the Prime Minister has with his backbenches. This is what Joe’s story says:

Several MPs said Mr Cameron needs to pass five “key tests” over the next three months: A victory over the Lib Dems in the Eastleigh by-election, avoiding wipe-out in May council elections, preserving Britain’s AAA credit rating, averting a triple-dip recession and a successful spring Budget. “If all these went badly together, it could create an unstable situation,” said a Tory MP.

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Now, Grant Shapps and his team are already on a war footing for the Eastleigh by-election. But senior Tories involved in the campaigns side of things are also refusing to entertain great delusions of success in the May council elections, which include all 27 county councils. The next two targets of retaining the AAA credit rating and avoiding a triple-dip recession don’t look particularly hopeful. As for the Budget, well, Osborne is unlikely to be taking any big overseas trips just before this year’s budget as he did in 2012, or indeed trusting the ‘wisdom’ of his Treasury civil servants on the benefits of taxing pasties. The Budget is the most crucial: the party would still face significant problems if a second Budget unravels as it did last year without any of the other issues on this list going badly wrong.

The point is that this list sets a tight deadline for Cameron on ‘healing the economy’ and reviving his party’s fortunes when the mid-term doldrums are still very much in evidence. Osborne might have been unwise to set so much store by Britain’s credit rating, and a triple-dip recession could well rest on initial estimates from the ONS that will be revised and which are affected by one-off factors such as the closure of a North Sea oil field, as it was for the most recent set of GDP figures.

More sanguine Tories, even those who might fancy a crack at the leadership at some point, would be happy with some upturn in fortunes in the six to nine months before the general election. And the more important thing is that voters feel the economy is improving because the squeeze on their living standards has weakened a little. This matters far more than a couple of percentage points on an ONS statistical release. There is also the suspicion among Cameron loyalists that those who are generally disaffected did their best to make last night’s rebellion as big as possible to send a message to the leadership, regardless of their views on the issue itself.

But it’s difficult to see this list as one drawn up by MPs keen to give the Prime Minister any benefit of the doubt at all. For one thing, it doesn’t mention Europe, as though Cameron’s momentous speech on the subject just a few weeks ago never happened. It looks a little like they’re setting him up to fail.


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  • Grrr8

    These malcontents seem to have an elevated sense of their own importance. if the best alternate candidate they could bring forward was Adam nobody ….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    After Seven Years he is still getting chances….then again after that “landslide” in May 2010

  • Andy

    Last nights vote clearly showed Cameron has a huge problem with his party. The fact he does is entirely of his own making.

  • James Strong

    Cameron is the leader they deserve.
    They voted for him, partly because many shallow members of their electorate were impressed with his very superficial talent of making a speech ‘without notes’ as so much of the media gushed over.
    His major opponent, David Davis,is a real Conservative and a defender of freedom but with not enough appeal to the Stupid Party members who preferred a PR man with good hair.
    If they’d elected Davis they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.stevens.790 Barbara Stevens

      Davis came from the wrong side of the tracks, now they are courting people from that side and not the side of Eton, why’s that then?

  • Mycroft

    This is all utterly ridiculous, who on earth could they replace him with who would do any better or be more appealing to the electorate?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …who would do or be worse?

      The feckless Cameroons couldn’t get even a sniff at a majority vs. a pack of drooling baboons.

      And nothing of value is done since.

      Who could possibly do worse?

      • Mycroft

        Yes, but who would do better? I don’t believe that anyone else would have done better than Cameron at the last election, and he is consistently ahead of his party in the polls. Though I wouldn’t mind seeing a different Chancellor
        (not that I can suggest a name).

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Yes, but who would do worse? I don’t believe that anyone else would
          have done worse than Cameron at the last election.

          You may be focusing on personality a bit much. Dave’s problems are with principle. You’re using a truncated yardstick to measure him, if it’s the people in the bubble. The whole lot of them are drooling baboons.

          When somebody figures this out… look out. People are going to absolutely lunge away from those baboons… every species of them.

          • Chris lancashire

            Still waiting for your nomination for Cameron’s successor. Carping is easy.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …a smarter baboon?

      • Fergus Pickering

        Liam Fox would do considerably worse. At the GE the Tories got 37% (the same as Blair in 2005) and Labour got 29% (much less than the doughty Michael Howard). Cameron can do nothing about the vagaries of the electoral system. He is so obviously our best leader (except of course for the divine Margaret) since Macmillan (and quite like him really) that the point does not need arguing.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          The fact that you’re arguing that the point doesn’t need arguing is the reason Dave is done.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I am beset by knaves and fools. You are right. Best ignore the buggers.

        • HooksLaw

          Correct and Thatcher allowed the Falklands to be invaded. Thatcher took us into the single market. Thatcher lost control of her chancellor (Lawson) who resigned, but in the end took us in the ERM. The divine Margret, despite her other qualities, was far from perfect.

          What the nutjobs forget is Cameron is actually leading. Perversely this involves not pretending you are in a popularity contest. The tiny incoherent minority of loony tunes may not like the 21st century but we have to live in it.

  • Radford_NG

    Consider who owns the pro-Cameron Spectator……then who owns the London Evening Standard [a Russian oligarch,currently a subject of Putins dirty-tricks dept];and ask which is the independent voice.

  • Russell

    If the EDM yoday to introduce a bill during this parliament (before 2015 election) is successful Cameron can win over his MP’s and a large part of the electorate and woe betide any Labour/Lib Dem or Tory MP’s who would dare to vote against legislation to ensure an EU in/out referendum is held during the next parliament after 2015.

    • HooksLaw

      There will be a referendum sometime in the next parliament. Its something the UKIP tendency like to dismiss, since it undermines their existence. The issue is which way will it go?

      Of course in practical terms its meaningless since we will be in the end subject to the same trade rules even if out of the EU but in the single market. The difference will be even less than now since by then we will have also had the renegotiation results.

      • Russell

        It is almost certain there will not be an EU referendum in the next parliament unless it is made law now to have one, as Camerons chances of winning in 2015 are very very slim, in fact almost impossible.
        The good thing about a vote now on introducing a referendum in the next parliament is that the Labour party and the LibDems will be crucified at the election if they vote down this bill now, as will a few tory MP’s who are anti-referendum.
        It is a win/win for Cameron and the Tories to hold a vote asap.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …but it’s a lose/lose for the LibLabCon monolith, which is why it won’t happen.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Of course they are setting him up to fail. The majority of Conservative MPs no longer think of Cameron as a winner. If they did, more would have followed him through the yes lobby last night. As it was 70% of backbenchers rebelled and a clear majority of the party, even including the payroll vote, have no confidence in the PM.
    The question, as the Adam Afriyie plot revealed, is not whether Cameron will be toppled… but when.

    • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.stevens.790 Barbara Stevens

      Its a mistake picking Mr Afriyie, he’s certainly a no winner.

      • ScaryBiscuits

        It’s a mistake picking Mr Cameron. He’s certainly no winner.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Poor poor Isabel. Clearly she does not understand that we do not live in a Presidential style democracy (much to the chagrin of Cameron no doubt). The electorate do not vote for the leader as much as the media might present it that way. The leader is dependent on his MP’s who are themselves dependent on the electorate. I will not be voting for the Conservatives at the next election for two reasons. I think Cameron is the worst Conservative leader in living memory and my Minister MP is a Cameroon doormat and a Europhiliac

    So just perhaps those MP’s who are now rightly measuring the previously disappointing Cameron’s performance are actually conscious of what is happening in their constituency and what their voters think rather than purely sucking up to an increasingly discredited (in terms of his conservatism) Prime Minister.purely to serve their own future ambitions.

    • HooksLaw

      Then welcome to a pro Euro labour government. Your assessment is of course banal.

  • UlyssesReturns

    What is a decent, hard-working, honest tory top-rate taxpayer to do? The longer Cameron stays at the helm of this second-rate coalition, the more one winces at his broken promises, U-turns and accommodations with those frightful libtards. The more he walks over the traditions of this great party and the more he chooses left over right, spending over cuts, Clegg and Merkel over Carswell and Bone, and foreign aid over our armed forces, the more one wants to boot him into touch and consign him and his bunch of vegetable-eating sycophants to electoral oblivion. And then…we would hand this once great nation back to the incompetent champagne socialist, posh-boy idiots and lunatics who created the mess in the first place; and our suffering would be even worse. What to do? What to do?

    • starfish

      I cannot see Dave leading his party into the next election

      The May elections will finish him off; the men in suits will decide on a new leader

      And it won’t be Osborne

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Well as we know, the hand that wields the dagger will never wear the crown. That’s why anybody plotting will always seek the background, and also why the Cameroons are so desperate to expose any plots, real or imagined.

    But this is all just the typical Speccie tittle tattle. Dave is going down. He had his chance, and nobody can claim he didn’t.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Do you know, I’m not so sure he is. If he were to win in 2015 you can bet all these nobodies would head for the hills. Or, as my daughter, no socialist she, said this morning, ‘Why don’t they hurry up and die.’. She was referring to the anti-gay marriage lot. She is not gay as if it mattered. I am not so bloody minded. They don’t have to hurry up.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        If he were to win in 2015, and if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.

        Dave is doing down. You’re looking at a dead man walking. This is what they look like.

      • Chris lancashire

        I wouldn’t bother Fergus, it’s really not worth the effort.

  • Archimedes

    “How very democratic of them, measuring the Prime Minister’s performance against a set of targets, rather than just saying they don’t like him, or comparing him to a chambermaid.”

    It’s all very well to say that, but if the backbenchers are that displeased, then it is because of poor leadership. What was it Cameron used to say about understanding the importance of bringing people with him – and let’s not pretend that he isn’t capable of bringing them with him. He approached detoxification like an amateur, deciding to go to war and quite happy to have media outlets referring to anyone that disagree with him as “right-wing” in order to drive home the distinction between the “Conservative” party and the “right-wing”. The only problem is that no one thinks that Cameron is the Conservative party, they think the backbenchers are. There are those that are disappointed with the leadership, and then there are those that are disappointed with the party.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    ” voters feel the economy is improving because the squeeze on their living standards has weakened a little.”

    Is that how it seems, or is there evidence? Because it seems to me that people do not think that, and the poorer you are the more you are affected by real increases in your cost of living. Increases in the things you don’t have a choice about paying for. Food, energy, petrol, train fares, that kind of thing. Real rates of inflation for the lower paid are probably at least double the headline rate. This is the kind of impression that lingers long after any upturn. And we haven’t seen an upturn.

    And his MPs are not setting him up to fail. If he was not already failing they would be rather more lkely to supprt him. But support leaks away with the repeated failure since 2010. That was the start line, there is no mileage in saying this is too short a period to turn it round.

    • Chris lancashire

      Here’s one piece of evidence – retail sales up 3% in January.

      • gladiolys

        When people are taking advantage of sales discounts. They’ll decline again.

        • Chris lancashire

          There’s nothing like looking on the bright side eh?

          • ScaryBiscuits

            Optimism isn’t a characteristic I would look for in an accountant.

            • Chris lancashire

              Sorry, scary, not an accountant.

              • ScaryBiscuits

                I didn’t say you were.

      • ScaryBiscuits

        Chris, you can prove anything with selective facts. The most reliable indication we have is not from a single month’s sales figures from a single sector but from the ONS data as a whole. This shows that the economy is flat-lining at best and Rhoda’s comments about what “flat” looks like for people at the bottom are well made. It reminds me of what somebody from Gibraltar recently told me about southern Spain: the headline unemployment rate might be ‘only’ 20% but that masks significant regional variations and in the south it is nearer 50% and many of those are working for a regional government that has not paid its salaries for over 14 months.

      • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.stevens.790 Barbara Stevens

        That’s me in M&S again! Can’t pass the store it draws me like a magnet.

    • starfish

      OK, a simple example

      I, like most people, have had no pay rise for 3 years

      My son’s favourite breakfast serial used to be £1.80 a box, now it is £2.26, 15% rise in a couple of years

      Every one of my household bills have gone up, we have got rid of a car, abandoned holidays and switched every utility at least once

      Our last significant household purchase was two years ago – I estimate my personal inflation rate is running at 8-9%

      Now I have lost child benefit too, so another budget to redraw

      Do I feel better?

      Guess!

      • HooksLaw

        And… who do you blame for that? Do you expect money to be grown on trees. There is no question but that we are in the middle of a squeeze, on account of a massive overspend by the last government and by a dire world economy.
        But myself… I would blame all those who voted Labour in 1997.

        • ScaryBiscuits

          I blame Dave and his chum Gideon. True the last government left a mess but Dave has done nothing to make it better. True he has reduced the deficit but instead of doing this by decreasing spending as Howe did in the early 80s, he has *chosen* to do it by increasing spending. Reducing would make Labour’s client state work harder and now doubt they would have squealed but they are doing that anyway. Increasing taxes essentially punishes Conservative voters for the excesses of Labour’s client state whilst still preserving the privileges of the latter. They Tory grassroots could have forgiven Dave over gay marriage if he wasn’t hitting them so hard in their pockets to no obvious purpose except getting Labour re-elected.

      • telemachus

        so why tolerate it
        Are we moving toward civil disobedience?

    • Russell

      There is mileage in saying this is too short a period to turn ‘it’ round when ‘it’ was what labour left for the incoming government in 2010.
      The worst deficit in the G8, in fact in the G20, a totally out of control welfare system, a ruined education system, an underfunded armed forces, a shattered NHS (Just look at Stafford) and a whole lot more wreckage brought about by Labour incompetence 1997 to 2010,
      No government could repair 13 years of political incompetence in less than 5 years, never mind less than 3 years.

      • HooksLaw

        Against a background of rising unemployment in Europe and recession in the Eurozone.
        The point is the loony toons are not interested in that – its just a question of mouthing of an anything which comforts them in their own brand of prejudice.

    • telemachus

      Tories care not a jot for the struggle of the poor
      As the kids in Tower Hamlets get rickets and look forward to an NHS which cannot afford to treat them, the Hoxton City types are just about to get Osborne’s 5%pay rise

      • Andy

        It’s Socialists like you who ‘care not a jot for the struggle of the poor’.

        And you should reflect that ‘the kids in Tower Hamlets get rickets’ under that glorious Labour Government of which you were such a great supporter.

        • telemachus

          Less and less of them
          As opposed to more and more now

      • Chris lancashire

        I believe they eat babies too.

        • telemachus

          Not just eat

      • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.stevens.790 Barbara Stevens

        Governments don’t give kids rickets, its the parents diets skills, or lack of them, and using the money they do have on drugs and alcohol. Even the poorest people survive like during the war, lack of meat but plenty of vegetables kept people fed. Its all down to education. Stop blameing the government what’s wrong with self detirmination.

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