Coffee House

Theresa May’s stop-and-search battle and the feverish Tory party

22 January 2014

22 January 2014

As predicted, Labour did make use of the Times’s story about Theresa May’s row with the Prime Minister over stop-and-search at PMQs today, using a backbench question from Steve Reed, who explicitly linked to Cameron’s ‘fear of Nigel Farage’. David Cameron gave a rather mollifying answer, telling the Commons that ‘stop-and-search does need reform’ and that ‘what’s really important is that stop-and-search is used properly but we don’t add to the burdens of the police’.

Subscribe from £1 per week


It’s interesting, this fear of Ukip business, mainly because Theresa May had seen her review of stop-and-search as a key modernising moment for the Conservatives, and she initially enjoyed positive headlines about her party’s appeal to the ethnic minority groups who feel victimised by the way the police use the power currently. There was particular excitement last summer over a front page of black newspaper The Voice, which splashed on whether Labour was losing the black vote, while praising the Home Secretary for her ‘rare acknowledgement of racial discrimination’. But an attempt to appeal to one group of voters who have long-held suspicions about the Conservatives seems to be being trumped by the need to appeal to a group of former Conservatives who are currently suspicious about whether the party is robust enough on matters such as law-and-order.

But there is another interesting dimension to this row. That it was splashed across the Times this morning has excited some Tory MPs who think that there is jostling at the top of the party in case of any leadership challenge later this year if the party manages its European elections performance badly. This sounds like a very fevered way of looking at things, as the party is going to do badly, and the question is really how well can it talk up Ukip so that the performance of Farage’s party ends up looking like a disappointment, while keeping backbenchers calm. Some of the more sanguine Eurosceptics certainly think their colleagues are getting a little over-excited to be talking about leadership challenges. But others observe to me that Theresa May and Chris Grayling in particular have recently been having more backbenchers in for meetings, and visiting different Conservative groups. Lower down, Adam Afriyie is still apparently trying his luck, too, although even a sympathetic backbencher chuckles that ‘it’s going a bit far to say he’s got a power base’.


More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.

Show comments
  • scampy1

    A majority of people in Britain want strong leaders like Thatcher rather than effete public school boys like Blair and Cameron.
    Take one of the richest countries Singapore without natural resources and welfare benefits yet a higher living standard and home ownership than Britain and immigrants only allowed who have work permits as there are no benefits for the third world scroungers as in UK?
    And the scroungers are still coming in large numbers e.ven though the labour vermin are long removed

  • Richard N

    There are no genuine eurosceptics in the Tory party.

    There are just the same fake eurosceptics that the Tories have maintained for the last 40 years – while signing away Britain’s independence at the back door all that time.

  • Smithersjones2013

    But an attempt to appeal to one group of voters who have long-held
    suspicions about the Conservatives seems to be being trumped by the need
    to appeal to a group of former Conservatives who are currently
    suspicious about whether the party is robust enough on matters such as
    law-and-order.

    “Suspicious”??/!!! Do me a favour. The Tories sold their law and order credentials for a basket full of liberal flaiccidity when Waddington and Clarke introduced revolving prison sentences back in the nineties and there ain’t nothing the Court Jester’ can do to recover that situation (given sentencing is now under that exemplar in dim mediocrity Grayling..

  • ButcombeMan

    Anyone unwise enough to think of May as potential leader would do well to remember her utter stupidity in coining and using the “nasty party” line.
    This woman is surely not very bright. Her phrase was political dynamite which she was too stupid to understand.
    She gets by, (mostly), by keeping her head down and working hard.
    That second, is not a recipe for leadership potential.
    She is the female equivalent of John Major.

  • Makroon

    I think the police are pretty keen to review stop and search practice.

    • HookesLaw

      Good economic news and what are thick tory backbenchers going on about…?

      • Mynydd

        The thick tory backbenchers going on about is the policy split between Mr Cameron and Mrs May. What a way to run a government. By the way this is nothing to do with the Lib Dems

      • Two Bob

        Join the Lib Dems for gods sake.

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here