The drumbeat of criticism of David Cameron and George Osborne by
various Tory MPs, summed up on the front page of today’s Telegraph, has
drawn a reaction from those MPs loyal to the leadership. Kris Hopkins, the founder of the 301 group of Tory MPs, complains that the trouble is being whipped up by a ‘small group of
disaffected people’ and that ‘the nature of their criticisms shows that this is about their egos not making the country a better place.’
At issue here is who speaks for Tory MPs. Hopkins claims that the vast majority of his colleagues are ‘committed and supportive of the Prime Minister and his team’ and that
they’re ‘really annoyed that it is the same group of people who keep standing up and claiming to speak for the parliamentary party when they do not’. In a sign that the gloves are
coming off in this internal argument, Hopkins warns that if Tory MPs are ‘represented in the media by a bunch of whingers then we’re compromised’. He continues that, while
‘there should be constant challenge to the leadership, it shouldn’t start from the position of dislike for the Prime Minister’.
Hopkins’ criticisms are echoed by Charlie Elphicke, a leadership loyalist on the executive of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. He says ‘it is not the Prime Minister who needs to
get a grip but colleagues on the backbenches who need to realise that government is not a cakewalk’.
Hopkins’ argument that the malcontents are a small minority will soon be put to the test. The coming elections for the 1922 Committee next month will pit 301 group backed candidates against
those more critical of the leadership. The results of these contests will be the clearest guide yet to where power really lies in the parliamentary party.