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Cameron urges Tory MPs to stop writing troublemaking letters

15 January 2014

8:59 AM

15 January 2014

8:59 AM

David Cameron addressed the parliamentary Conservative party last night. He took an opportunity to tell MPs to stop writing him public letters, and instead that they should approach him privately and that his ‘door is always open’. That opportunity was raised by Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby, who complained about colleagues ‘banging on about Europe’ (even those who signed the letter are a bit worried about the amount of chat about Europe that it has provoked).

But the meeting itself was focused on the party’s media strategy (with a presentation from Craig Oliver) and what one present described as ‘holistic election strategy’. That involved the PM sketching out the key messages that the party needs to repeat to undermine Labour over the next few months, including reminding voters about the difference between the Tories’ long-term plan and the threat posed to the recovery by Labour. It also involved Cameron having a small technological meltdown when his PowerPoint presentation failed to work.

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There was some surprise in the PM’s team that there wasn’t an avalanche of questions from backbenchers. That the most explosive question was one from a loyal MP worried about something that irritates the PM says something about the state the party is in at the moment: backbenchers want to make a noise, but they feel that those public letters are more fruitful than confronting their leader in what are supposed to be private meetings (and that, as I explained yesterday, is ultimately the Prime Minister’s fault as he constantly rewards bad behaviour by giving MPs concessions whenever they threaten trouble). But the meeting itself pleased even fairly critical backbenchers, with one describing it as a ‘New Year bromance’. Let’s see how long that lasts before real panic about those EU elections sets in.

Meanwhile, I hear that the party has been discussing its strategy for this afternoon’s opposition debate on the minimum wage. Labour is promising to ‘drag ministers to the House of Commons’ (presumably with dramatic video footage) for this debate, but it does present a genuine question for a party that is seriously mulling a wage increase: should those ministers, once they’ve been dragged to the Commons, go on the attack, or make mollifying noises about an increase? It will also be interesting to see how many MPs who are opposed to an increase make a contribution.

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Show comments
  • Mynydd

    The last time Conservative MPs approached a PM privately Mrs Thatcher was down the road, So for the good of the party, you lot approach him privately. Why wait for the men in grey suits.

  • RavenRandom

    Cameron is right. Unity is strength. Do it in private or after winning a general election. If you don’t win the election you have zero influence over policy.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …and if LibLabCon wins the election, then conservatives don’t have any influence over policy, pretty much like now, in other words.

  • foxoles

    ‘He took an opportunity to tell MPs to stop writing him public letters, and instead that they should approach him privately …’

    So that he can ignore them (and their pesky constituents).

  • Kitty MLB

    Mr Cameron, Its not just MP’s writing letters you wish to stop.
    When someone writes an article elsewhere called:
    ‘Blast from the full orchestra of Conservatism’:
    Some gentleman responds by mentioning that you cannot have this when
    the views of genuine , and loyal Conservatives who speak in the same voice as Conservative backbenchers are excessively ignored and removed- the response-his comments
    were removed.
    It seems that some are completely engulfed in a suffocating Dickensian Cameroon fog do not like reality, in any written form, and they are totally tone deaf to the
    reality of the electorate.

  • http://english-pensioner.blogspot.co.uk/ english_pensioner

    Perhaps they should all ask to see him privately, and individually, for say a half hour discussion. With 90+ signatures that would keep him busy for a while, especially if they then asked for follow-up meetings once they had discussed the issues with their constituency parties. “There are more ways than one of skinning a cat” as the saying goes.

  • Kitty MLB

    Poor Mr Cameron ( I usually call him the arch- deceiver)
    Trying to hush up those MP’s who SERVE their constituencies –
    people who are worried about the state of this once great Country,
    the views of the abused, betrayed and ignored majority.
    He really is a Prime Minister without a party.

  • Denis_Cooper

    Of course it’s far better for backbench MPs to approach the Prime Minister in private to voice their concerns and make their suggestions, so he can make a few soothing noises at the meeting and then afterwards he can completely ignore what they have said and nobody knows anything much about it. The trouble with these public letters is they do get publicised and then he can’t simply carry on as he was planning as if none of his backbench MPs had ever said anything. It’s obviously a real nuisance when a Prime Minister has to listen to what his party’s backbenchers are saying rather than just telling them what they should think and say and do, which is why the payroll vote has grown so large, now about 40% of all the Tory MPs, and also why it was being planned to reduce the number of troublesome backbenchers by cutting the total number of MPs.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Cameron does not “walk the talk” and is therefore getting exactly what he deserves. He has played his party and his backbenchers for fools quite long enough, they are justifiably losing patience.
    Let’s have more rebellion, more disobedience and finally let’s have someone with the courage to administer the “coupe de grace” to this imposter.

    • RavenRandom

      Yep let’s have Miliband and Balls as the next PM and Chancellor. Don’t want that? Then understand that it is too late now to change leaders, after a successful election yes, but not now. I for one do not want to give the barely healed patient back to the economic quacks in the Labour party.

      • an ex-tory voter

        I do not accept that it is too late to change leader although I will admit that it is difficult to see a prominent face in the Tory Party who might gain the confidence of the electorate. Since DC emasculated the local consewrvative Associations so as to prevent them from choosing their own candidates we have been inundated with placemen and climbers of the greasy pole, so it may be some time before a strong conservative politician surfaces and rallies the Tory troops.
        As for David Cameron, I do not believe he is a fit and proper person to lead the party which I have supported all my adult life. He does not share my principles and even if he does share them lacks the spine to promote and implement them. I believe he has lied and continues to lie to the British people about the reality of the EU and come what may, I will never vote for a party which he leads.

        • RavenRandom

          I respect your position, but I find your conclusion disturbing. Surely it is better to have a Conservative government rather than a Labour one. Think of the disaster they will cause if they get back in.

          • an ex-tory voter

            As far as economic management is concerned, I see little difference between what George Osborne is doing and what Alistair Darling would have done, indeed there are some analysts who say Darling’s plan was better, (I discount Balls, he is a spent force with too much debt and misery on his coat tails. Even if Labour win, he will not be Chancellor).
            I see the EU and national sovereignty as far more important and believe that Cameron, Clegg and Milliband will all provide exactly the same end result. Personally, I have reached the point where my metaphorical back is against the wall and I prefer to go down fighting than to roll over for the likes of Lib, Lab, Con.
            The problem for the Conservatives is that they have abandoned their core vote and that core vote is migrating to UKIP. I am not alone in having reached the end of my patience, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions like me. Unless the Conservative Party comes to it’s collective senses and dumps David Cameron they deserve to and very probably will, lose the next GE.

            • RavenRandom

              I’m more worried about Labour winning.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Then, don’t split the UKIP vote.

  • @PhilKean1

    .
    How absolutely perverse !

    A call to those MPs who are trying to protect the democratic rights of their constituents, from a Prime Minister whose actions, and inaction, is the reason they have been forced to act.

    We simply MUST break the Liberal-left’s complete dominance of British politics at the 2015 election. And in this regard, I thank my stars that UKIP exists.
    .

    • David Kay

      socialism in a perverse ideology that has infested the Conservative party like cancer. UKIP is the cure and Nigel Farage is the doctor who will administer that cure. Vote UKIP

      • @PhilKean1

        .
        Yes, David.

        And today, as real Conservatives fight to free the British people from EU dictatorship, David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, shows us the sorts of things that occupy his mind …………

        “Cameron calls for children to be taught about the dangers of “sexting”

        Give us all strength !
        .

      • Kitty MLB

        No one ever told Cameron that be chained to a failed leftie
        agenda did not work the first time around, polluting the clear
        blue waters with toxic socialist waste was never the answer.
        He most certainly is not the doctor who can administer the cure,
        we need to get back to the true Conservative values that he is so ashamed of.

        • @PhilKean1

          Too right, Kitty.
          .

          • Kitty MLB

            Hello Phil.
            A very Happy New Year to you.
            I do worry about those who still cannot see through Cameron.

  • AnotherDave

    If Mr Cameron was actually pursuing the policy he claims to be pursuing – negotiating “reform” of the EU – then MPs would have less cause to press on the issue.

    In any event, MPs are not children. The minority of anti-EU Conservative MPs are representing the views of the majority of the electorate.

  • HookesLaw

    it’s comforting to know that not all Conservative backbenchers are totally thick. because those that are are handing the election to Labour.

    • telemachus

      Are you sure
      By definition Tory backbenchers must be intellectually challenged

      • CharlietheChump

        SNC

        • telemachus

          ??

    • telemachus

      Many honourable precedents
      “Are the Tories pretending to be thick or are they really thick?….. it was quite horrific to see the massed ranks of Tory dinosaurs desperately scrabbling around to find any possible argument….

  • telemachus

    Just what is the key message
    The DT today tells us Osborne is lecturing Europe on EU reform
    Waste of time
    He needs to network and get allies if he is to succeed
    *
    The message I hear is that the Tories are navel gazing Europe as usual

  • Chris lancashire

    Let’s hope Bernard Jenkin and his moronic fellow travellers take heed.

    • HookesLaw

      You got it in one.

    • Denis_Cooper

      So for Tory loyalists it is “moronic” to have any commitment to our national sovereignty and democracy.

      It’s very interesting how Hague and other senior Tories have reacted to the proposal that we should be able to exercise a national veto over EU laws, treating it as an outlandish and totally absurd idea, when in fact that is what we were promised by the government at the time of the 1975 retrospective referendum on whether to stay in the EEC.

      http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm

      “The Minister representing Britain can veto any proposal for a new law or a
      new tax if he considers it to be against British interests.”

      And there has never been any subsequent referendum asking us whether we agreed to give up national vetoes and move to transnational majority voting; having campaigned for a “yes” in that referendum it was just a few years later that Thatcher set the precedent that the government could change the terms of the contract without bothering to consult us again, and then Major, Blair and Brown all followed that precedent.

      • an ex-tory voter

        Absolutely correct, but there is an upside to everything. In this case the upside is that the whole construct lacks any democratic legitimacy because it has been achieved using lies and the prevention of a democratic vote.
        It is therefore open to any strong and popular leader to argue that it has been imposed without consent and can therefore be detroyed “at a stroke”. All that will be required is the passage of Act of Parliament reasserting it’s and the UK Court’s supremacy over EU law.
        No doubt chaos would ensue but it is very much in the interests of the EU economies that trade recommence quickly, therefore it will. Money and pragmatism will drive the necessary compromises.
        Meanwhile, we can concentrate on the vast majority of our trade which goes elsewhere on the planet.

        • Denis_Cooper

          I agree, because successive governments have destroyed the basis for the popular consent that was extracted in 1975 I see no moral argument that we should have another referendum before we left. It would be different if the present contract was the same as that approved in the 1975 referendum, then it could be argued that what the people had directly approved should not reversed by Parliament without first asking the people for their agreement to that being done; but it isn’t the same contract, it’s now a very different contract.

      • Chris lancashire

        It is moronic to continue banging on about the same subject when the group lead by Jenkin has already secured the commitment to a referendum. Jenkin well knows that his latest idiotic epistle was asking for something that cannot be granted as it amounts to a fundamental change in our EU relationship which Hague pointed out.
        It is also moronic to continue promoting disunity in the party which leads to electoral defeat and the election of a Labour Party which definitely won’t allow a referendum.

        • Denis_Cooper

          If you and those leading your sh1te party had their way there would be no discussion at all about “Europe”, aka “how we are now governed”, and you’d just keep alienating more and more power from our Parliament to Brussels as you have always done in the past.

          • Chris lancashire

            Highly intelligent insult. Not.

            • Denis_Cooper

              More important that it’s highly accurate.

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