The trouble over the European Referendum Bill rather sums up the current state of the
relationship between the Conservative party leadership and its more truculent backbenchers.
The Bill was meant to be something to cheer up the troops. But it has ended up going down so badly that the whips have been left tearing their hair out and wishing that the government had never
Some of the policy differences between the leadership and the backbenches will never be resolved, particularly in coalition. But, as so often, a lot of the difficulties with this bill have been
caused by poor communication and an inability to take proper soundings.
The more one talks to Tory MPs, the more one is struck by how they feel that there is no proper feedback mechanism. This should be being provided by the whips but for some reason it is not. Part of
the problem is the state of the whips office. But there is also a sense among backbenchers that the whips aren’t listened to by Numbers 10 and 11 which makes them less effective.