Coffee House

David Cameron’s lurch to the backbenches

4 March 2013

8:56 AM

4 March 2013

8:56 AM

So the Conservative party’s refusal to lurch to the right has, in the past few days, resulted in stories about the European Court of Human Rights, EU referendum legislation, limiting access to benefits for migrants, and NHS tourism. All of these issues preoccupy the right wing of the Conservative party. David Cameron yesterday said the Tories would remain in the Common ground (and Fraser wondered whether the PM had realised that he wasn’t taking his own advice on this), but these briefings suggest Cameron is trying to find common ground with his own MPs as much as with the public. If these policies aren’t about a lurch to the right, they are certainly about a lurch to the backbenches.

Now, some of these ideas – particularly when it comes to changing benefit eligibility criteria to reduce the ‘pull factor’ for Romanian and Bulgarian migrants – may well poll well with the public. But it’s difficult not to read them as being as much about party harmony as they are vote winners. Backbenchers have repeatedly warned ministers that if they don’t get a grip on the migrant issue before the transitional controls lift, the party will do considerable damage to its standing on immigration. There is also a debate on the horizon on the issue which could make things very uncomfortable if the minister answering doesn’t have some work to show backbenchers. The debate has been tabled by Mark Pritchard, and has yet to be allocated a date. But this announcement could be as much about preventing awkward scenes in the voting lobbies as it is about anything outside the Westminster Village.

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It’s also interesting that Downing Street is now seriously considering introducing legislation for a referendum in order to maintain the competitive advantage over the other parties before they decide their own European policies. This is something backbenchers have been pushing for over the past year – and there are more than 100 of them by one count – so not only would a Bill help the party on the doorstep when it comes to the European elections in 2014, but it will also cheer up MPs.

But as James reported yesterday in his Mail on Sunday column, those plotting against Cameron, including Adam Afriyie, are waiting for the Budget now. It was one of those five key tests that plotters briefed the Evening Standard on. Cameron has already lost two of those five tests, which shows as much as anything else that MPs have been setting him up to fail. There’s a sense that his attempt to find common ground with MPs could have started quite a lot earlier so that certain backbenchers never had the chance to become thorns in the leadership’s flesh were given the attention and support they needed to stay loyal.

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Show comments
  • HookesLaw

    Like the poor, thick backbench tory MPs will always be with us.

    • FF42

      I think a foreboding that they might not always be with us is concentrating their minds.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Have you had to change your login name? Why was that I wonder? You weren’t banned now were you?

      I think you can comfort yourself that its likely there will be far fewer “thick” Tory backbenchers in 2015 thanks to Dave. There might even be as few as 200. Just like it used to be. Ain’t Dave done grand.

  • ButcombeMan

    It is not “common ground” with MPs that Cameron needs to find, it is common ground with the electorate. Those who who would prefer to vote Conservative and those who might, if the message was right or believable.

    He has virtually abandoned core conservative supporters, they do not understand him. They do not believe him or in him, he is not, recognisably, Conservative at all.

    Pandering to the Islington/Notting Hill, Guardian reading, metropolitan, dinner party, country home in the Cotswolds set, that he inhabits, is a million miles from ordinary voters.

    When the votes come to be counted, those people are an irrelevance. They, the type, are nowhere to be seen north of Tatton and there are not many there..

    Cameron is stuffed.

    If Osborne makes yet another mess of the budget, the party is over.

    What IS Crosby upto?

    • HookesLaw

      Absurd.
      The majopr economies of thye world are overshadowed by debt and deficit spending from 2008. The govt are faced with that has do not have a magic wand. No govt has. Ask Hollande.
      The US have failed to face up to theior issues and the enforced cuts now (on top of the Euro shambles) threaten the entire Western world.
      None of this is CAMERONS FAULT OR THE CONSERVATIVES. BUT IT IS FACED WITH THE FALL OUT.

      • Colonel Mustard

        There you go attacking conservatives again and letting the socialist trolls off scot free. Great strategy.

      • ButcombeMan

        Hookey
        You need to get a grip on yourself and calm down.
        “Absurd” to me, “Utter cobblers” to another. Are you OK? What are you on? Go and have an after lunch nap.

        I am not in disagreement with any of your analysis of the debt and deficit spending issues. You rant and lose control of yourself, but you are essentially, broadly correct. You are though, off topic.

        There IS a political and financial competence issue.

        When Osborne fiddles with pasty taxes and his budget unravels, when Cameron needlessly alienates swathes of his core supporters on a non critical issue, he did not need to bother with. something is seriously wrong.

        When Cameron finds it necessary to needlesly name call those who are tempted by UKIP rather than analyse WHY they are tempted.

        HE has the problem.

        The “fruitcakes” are real people. They have a vote. Get used to it.

        If the only way to make Cameron represent the electorate rather than just himself and a narrow class of people, is to leave him, many will choose to leave, in droves.

        The way Cameron is being careless with the party and with core supporters will come back to haunt the party. It will consign a Tory rump to perpetual oppossition.

    • andagain

      Those who who would prefer to vote Conservative and those who might, if the message was right or believable.

      Those people are not core Conservative voters. They want different things. If they wanted the same things, they would be core supporters themselves.

      • ButcombeMan

        You are being absurd.
        There are hard core supporters with all parties.
        There are voters open to persuasion, a new generation along every year.

        • andagain

          Why is it absurd to say that the hard core supporters are not the same as the people open to persuasion?

          If the people open to persuasion were like the hard core supporters, they would not be open to persuasion.

          • ButcombeMan

            Are you really THAT stupid? The hard core for every party always vote for that party. Others drift and change, do you really not know or understand the differrence?

            Cameron’s real problem is that he has alienated some even many, of what used to be Tory hard core, they have opted out and taken their funding and their knocking on doors with them.

            • andagain

              The hard core for every party always vote for that party. Others drift and change, do you really not know or understand the differrence?

              Then the people Cameron needs to appeal to are the people who drift and change, not the hard core whose votes never change.

  • http://www.brokenbritainunderthetories.com/ simmo

    BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – JACK STRAW & GADDAFFI DEALS COVER UP

    What does the new Justice & Security Bill ,Blair
    ,Straw and Gaddafi have in common – the new Bill is to cover up the millions of
    pounds it will cost the Country in Claims against Illegal Detention and Torture
    .One man’s claim so far has cost the Tax Payer £2.2 Million .Blair and Straw
    made Detention Deals with Gaddafi in exchange for lucrative business deals
    ,anti Gaddafi opponents were interrogated and incarcerated by the British
    Secret Service .Straw is the same Home
    Secretary that made it illegal for Children in Care to complain of Abuse
    .Secret Courts will become the ‘Norm’ –Austerity ,the sick disabled and
    unemployed have had Benefits cut to the bone to pay for this total illegal underhand
    practice .How much more don’t we the Public know
    .www.brokenbritainundertories.com

    • Colonel Mustard

      Do you think Jack Straw is a Tory? If you can’t see much difference between the parties why pick on the Tories?

      • Makroon

        Blair and Straw have long since become hate figures for the wide-eyed, true believer kiddies on the internet.

  • http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/ Justathought

    The plan that announcing an EU referendum would placate voters and stop leakage to UKIP has per Eastleigh failed utterly. Also the announcement that there is no upper limit on Indian immigration sent shock waves to the voters who then switched to UKIP. The EU elections in 2014 will be carnage if the economy continues to flat-line and immigration continues rising unabated.

  • Daniel Maris

    Great news – the people’s revolt is gathering pace. The BBC reports that:

    “Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed proposals to impose some of the world’s strictest controls on executive pay, final referendum results show.”

    Of course our elite-friendly goverment have been trying to do the opposite, allowing Banks to continue with absurd levels of remuneration.

    • James Strong

      It is no business of the UK government or our EU ‘partners’ what any private company pays to any of its staff.
      The Swiss can do what they want in their own jurisdiction; it doesn’t parallel our situation where the EU is trying to shaft London as a financial centre.
      But the real problem is the bail-out of the banks. If they’d been allowed to fail that would have been a clear signal to all about how to conduct business and to be careful in remunerating staff.
      Unfortunately, that’s not where we are now. If it was up to me I’d impose a remuneration cap of, say £500,000 on banks mostly owned by the taxpayer.
      I’d be looking to sell off the taxpayers’ stake as soon as we could break even on it, then I’d let them compete unhindered in the market, but with the absolutely essential condition that there will be NO bail-outs.

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

        I think it is. Companies Law is lax. SHAREHOLDERS put up the EQUITY and should be able to control Management Remuneration. It is outrageous that Employees can loot a company and Shareholders have no say

        • Makroon

          Also true, but “no say”, or just supine connivance ?

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

            Pay Votes are ADVISORY only. Chairman casts Proxy Votes

        • James Strong

          Good point. I agree with you that shareholders should be in control and I wouldn’t object to changes to make that happen.
          Isn’t that what the Swiss are doing?
          But the EU are proposing regulations limiting bonus payments to the equivalent of one year’s salary. My objection is to this being imposed by government.

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

            The EU has done nothing. According to Richard North’s Blog the EU Parliament has proposed but as it cannot legislate it remains for the Commission and Council of Ministers to decide. Anyway the proposal was that a Shareholder Vote could raise the Bonus Cap

            • James Strong

              Really; it’s not good enough to say that the EU has done nothing.

              They have done nothing YET. They’ve started the process; things don’t get done in one snap of the fingers.
              The idea of a bonus cap decided by government, which will be the default position unless overridden if your analysis is right, is still misguided. It is no business of any government at all, and no business of theirs to try to mould opinion on it.

    • Swiss Bob

      You mean that they’ve voted for the shareholders, the owners of companies to have more say in executive salary?

      The Swiss really aren’t stupid enough to start with price and pay controls.

  • RKing

    If Camoron defected to the Limp Dums he would probably be more at home. Then Farage could become leader of the True Tories…….

    ………….. just dreaming!!!

  • andagain

    So the Conservative party’s refusal to lurch to the right has, in the past few days, resulted in stories about the European Court of Human Rights, EU referendum legislation, limiting access to benefits for migrants, and NHS tourism. All of these issues preoccupy the right wing of the Conservative party.

    I wonder why no one trusts politicians any more?

    I’d say the Conservatives have already accepted defeat at the next election and are just fighting about who to blame.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well YOU would say that.

      • andagain

        I voted for the Tories in every single election I have ever had the chance to do so.

        But people like you have done a lot to drive me away. I state this for my own piece of mind.

        For the record: The OP is about the Conservative leader and ministers trying to please their own backbenchers. I don’t think it is unreasonable to draw conclusions about the internal politics of the Conservative Party.

        • http://twitter.com/ThatcheriteLee Thatcherite Lee

          No, it’s about an elite in the media trying to undermine the party and influence public perception.

          If they do nothing they’re accused of being complacent and not caring but when they try to do something they get accused of being right wing to just please their backbenchers.

          I struggled to understand exactly what it is they want them to do.

          • andagain

            Isabel points out that the party leadership is incoherently trying to placate the right-wing backbenchers, hours after saying it will not lurch to the right.

            So obviously she must be trying to undermine the Party. Because to say anything else would be to admit that the Party is undermining itself.

            • http://twitter.com/ThatcheriteLee Thatcherite Lee

              And I’m pointing out that these ideas are not right wing therefore it’s an entirely inaccurate assumption to make.

              • andagain

                Cutting bankers bonuses is pretty popular- does that mean that that idea is not left-wing?

                So how does saying that something is popular prove that it is not right-wing?

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

                  Banker Bonuses belong in Retained Earnings to bolster Equity

                • James Strong

                  What is your position on banker’s bonuses, then? Do you really think shareholders should decide, as you said earlier? Or should they be guided, cajoled or coerced to use the money in a way you approve of?
                  And if you are not a bank shareholder should you have a say in it at all?

        • Colonel Mustard

          “I voted for the Tories in every single election I have ever had the chance to do so.”

          I doubt that.

          • HookesLaw

            Why should you doubt that? All you do is demonstrate what a head in the sand ignore the evidence of your own eyes you have. Never more happy than living in a fantasy land

            • Colonel Mustard

              Something to do with almost every one of his comments here supporting Labour or at least socialist policies and attacking the “Tories”? Did you miss his “three out of four elections in a row therefore the public must support Labour values” line? There are plenty of cuckoos in the nest these days as well as false flags online as Labour gear up their blog offensive and aim to intensify the Conservative “split”.

              If I had my hand in the sand I would not be worried about it and happily voting Conservative as always. And if you knew more about what you were doing you would be targeting the correct enemy instead of aiding and abetting them.

  • http://twitter.com/WhiteWednesday White Wednesday

    Moral of the story: If you want to influence Cameron, you have to desert him and/or vote UKIP. No amount of persuasion from inside the Tory tent works. Just ask Conservatives along the HS2 route.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Well its nothing more then the Libdems have done. Cameron always buckles when external pressure which he cannot control at all is put on him!

    • telemachus

      And the more the right do this the more the forces of reason benefit

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

    So what about these issues you fail to mention ?
    http://rt.com/news/uk-eu-air-pollution-765/………..

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom
      • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

        this means nothing if you do not have the comparative historical data of how those wages increased to the various levels.

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

          Rubbish. It is rate of change that matters

  • Colonel Mustard

    Why is it always a “lurch” by Cameron but an “embrace” by Miliband?

  • Noa

    One of the great pleasures of life is deflating a sel-opinionated windbag.
    Which is what the British public and UKIP are presently doing to Cameron.

    • Makroon

      He is not a “self-opinionated windbag”, he is a clever political operator, who takes his opinions and policies from a support-group of “self-opinionated windbags”.

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

        “he is a clever political operator,” You are manifestly deluded

        • Makroon

          No, I just occasionally check the polls of his popularity rating.

  • Anthony Makara

    I well remember how the right were plotting against David Cameron way back when Gordon Brown opened up a 12 point lead in the opinion polls. So, this is nothing new and let’s face it the modernizers have always been hated by the traditionalists in this cultral war within the Conservative Party. David Cameron knows that abandoning the centre-ground to One-Nation Labour makes Ed Miliband’s job much easier, if Cameron holds to the centre Labour will be forced to drift out to the left in order to appear different. Actually David Cameron has been more rioght-wing than I expected, which to me as a supporter of One-Nation Paternalism, has been disappointing. David Cameron has tried to mix right-wing economic policy with liberal social policies and I believe its the social policy at the heart of modernization that creates so many enemies for the Prime Minister. Electorally it would be a grave error to make a dash to the right and open up the comfort-zone of the centre-ground to Labour.

    • Russell

      This isn’t about ‘drifting to the right’, it’s about doing what’s right! Stop donating £10billion NET per year to the EU, stop undesirables entering the UK, throw out undesirables from the UK, reduce taxes especially for the low paid, reduce public sector spending by slashing the obscene salaries/pensions/perks for all public sector senior staff (this includes Judges, NHS chiefs, Council chiefs, Police chiefs and all the other overpopulated chiefs sector).

      • HookesLaw

        Take a look at what proportion of GDP Norway pays to the EU. Take a look at is immigration policy in relation to the EU.
        The public sector is being cut, one day you might wake up to the real world.

    • Colonel Mustard

      He has not been right-wing – or conservative – at all. He has preserved in aspic New Labour’s left wing infiltration and politicisation of the public sector, to his detriment. He has allowed political discourse to be defined by the Labour narrative – actually more than that, in some cases almost a far-left narrative. And unsurprisingly “One-Nation Paternalism” has the whiff of Stalin about it. Why is it you socialist sheep happily latch on to and endlessly bleat facile slogans like that whilst getting so faux-outraged by facile slogans like “The Big Society”?

      • HookesLaw

        Utter cobblers, keep talking rubbish to justify your own innate stupidity.
        Calling a One Nation tory a socialist sheep, shows how disgustingly banal you are. References to someone like that being Stalinist is beyond parody.

        Its sad that the Spectaror has descended to relying on ignorant facile comments like yours to maintain its hit rate.
        I wonder why it bothers paying reporters. it could post pages from the telephone directory to generate the sort of nonsense people like you generate.
        The Spectator has become truly pointless.

        As a Conservative I welcome whatever support the state can give to those who in ‘the big society’ help others to help themselves. This self help and self reliance and the ethos of ‘service’ is what conservatives and conservatism is all about.
        It comes as no surprise top me that you and your fellow rabid numpties are clueless about that.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I don’t think Mr Makara is a Tory and I don’t think Miliband’s “one nation” intends to be a Tory one nation. Instead of resorting to infantile abuse try reading the posts and identifying who are socialists and who are conservatives. If you cannot be civil I suggest that you refrain from commenting on my comments (which I’m perfectly entitled to make). It is deeply suspicious that after an absence of almost a week you and telemachus turn up on the same day.

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

      Anthony, it is irrelevant. I am afraid Westminster is becoming a nonsense. Who cares which courtier and which King and which Pretender……as Disraeli put it: “The Palace is not safe when the Cottage is not happy”

      • Anthony Makara

        TomTom, Democracy has to eventually evolve beyond political parties if it is to survive. Its clear that the forthcoming generations are going to find new ways to govern the country and will not put all their faith in a body of career legislators that have a monopoly on power. In reply to Mr Mustard, its interesting how the defenders of ideology, be it left or right, are always the most emotional and uptight of people in a debate. Perhaps that tells us as much about their personality as their politics?

        • Colonel Mustard

          The “emotional and uptight” is your cowardly definition of the “other” in order to discredit it rather than anything actually implicit within my comment. And I am not defending any ideology but rather attacking one. The use of the false honorific “Mr” tells us something about you too. You dislike being disagreed with and must assert your superiority.

          And “democracy beyond political parties” sounds very much like Common Purpose bilge. So there is a message there about you and it is very typical of the modern British socialist.

        • Russell

          When your country is being ruined by people like Brown, Balls, Miliband and his cronies or Cameron and his cronies you have a right and a duty to be emotional and uptight.

          • Anthony Makara

            I’m certainly not interested in defending the debacle that was New Labour. However one has to say that the UKIP supporters stand out like a sore thumb on political forums. They carry so much rage against the EU and immigrants, yet UKIP as a party is so free market that its policies would have our economy flooded with BRIC imports and outsourcing would become the norm rather than the exception. I suspect that most people who vote UKIP do not understand just how globalist it is? The Pro-Britain posturing from UKIP is really a great confidence trick as this party wants us to trade completely openly with the worlds sweatshop economies and given the wage and currency differentials that would mean more imports, more outsourcing, more UK jobs lost. David Cameron, for all his current faults, is right not to jump through hoops to accomodate UKIP supporters.

            • Colonel Mustard

              I am not a UKIP supporter.

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

                Yes and only because NIck Clegg chose to put them there…..Cameron effectively lost to Gordon Brown

            • HookesLaw

              Oh dear – don’t point out what a raging hypocrisy UKIP is. That would upset the poor little headbanging darlings who would rather take our country to another planet – any planet – rather than aadmit we must inhabit the current one.

              The truth of course is that UKIP is an any port in a storm receptacle for a mass of conflicting and disagreeable opinions which have little in common and no serious prospect of delivering a sane government.

              • Colonel Mustard

                You should be attacking socialists and Labour rather than UKIP. It is no good your wasting time spitting ire at UKIP as the implausible government in waiting whilst continuing to fail to engage or combat Labour propaganda. But it does reflect nicely the total misdirection of the Conservatives.

            • ButcombeMan

              We already do trade completely openly with most countries. We already do buy from sweatshops, out sourcing already is the norm in many places.

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

          Political Parties are not part of the Constitution but are in Germany. Parties have moved from loose alliances of individual regional MPs to being centralised Corporations employing MPs

    • andagain

      David Cameron has tried to mix right-wing economic policy with liberal
      social policies and I believe its the social policy at the heart of
      modernization that creates so many enemies for the Prime Minister.

      I’d say that Camerons real problem is that the recovery ground to a halt shortly after he became PM. If it had continued as everyone expected, he would be expecting a majority in 2015 and no one would say a word against him.

      With interests rates so low this is in theory a great time to borrow for roadbuilding, homebuilding etc, but that would mean increasing the deficit after all their emphasis on reducing the deficit (rather than current spending). This would be portrayed as a U-turn and admitting that Ed Balls was right all along, so they are not going to do it. So they are reduced to prayer.

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

        I had high expectations of a step change in policy after May 2010 and an end to fudge with the Banks. A Fresh Start and moving forward to unleash some private sector growth. I did not expect Brown’s Policy to be continued

  • http://twitter.com/ThatcheriteLee Thatcherite Lee

    Can we please stop this ridiculous notion that these ideas are just right wing. That’s scaremongering nonsense from the left designed to make policies they know would be popular with the majority sound as negative and evil as possible.

    • andagain

      These ideas are popular on the right, and unpopular on the left, but they are not right-wing?

      • Russell

        The ideas are right(correct) not right wing!

        • telemachus

          So it’s OK then
          Keep then right through to 2015 and the Tories will sail back in

      • http://twitter.com/ThatcheriteLee Thatcherite Lee

        They’re also popular in the centre so no they are not right wing.

    • Smithersjones2013

      How pathetic. All you are worried about is not being called ‘right wing’. How infantile. Were you picked on in the schoolyard? Are you really such a victim?

      For goodness sake the biggest reason not to vote Tory is that their spineless supporters are running scared of bullying left-wing extremist propaganda. How can people follow a party that is in desperate need of trauma counselling? The Conservative Party (and Cameron in particular) constantly deny who they are and pretend to be what they are not. They have no self-respect. How can you support a party that does not respect itself?

      In its current state the Tory party is fit for nothing and of no good to anyone…..

  • dsbfgrhntgrtyty

    WE will all vote UKIP instead

    Sign this petition to restrict Bulgarian and Romanians from entering the UK:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41492

    Almost 71,000 signed

  • duyfken

    IH: “Backbenchers have repeatedly warned ministers that if they don’t get a
    grip on the migrant issue before the transitional controls lift, the
    party will do considerable damage to its standing on immigration.”

    When will those in the Westminster bubble, and I include the Speccie crowd also, decide to focus on principle rather than on perceived electoral advantage? If the transitional controls are lifted, then the considerable damage will be to the UK as a whole and not just to the piffling status of the Conservative Party.

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

      The Romanian Foreign Minister doesn’t understand Cameron since Hague is assuring him everything is okay for Romanians to come to the Uk and claim benefits

      • telemachus

        I have posted before that we need this influx of talent to stimulate us forward
        Eastleigh has shown us the resurgence of little englandism

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