There has been a rare outbreak of unity in the Tory party in recent weeks. It is the product of several factors – the bonding effect of honouring Margaret Thatcher, the influence of Lynton Crosby and a growing sense on the Tory benches that Labour are beatable.
Another important element of it is that David Cameron has found a better way to interact with his own MPs. As one senior Number 10 figure told me, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day. But for the first time, I think, we have a proper systematic way of engaging with the party.’
One element of this is more serious policy discussions with MPs. Indeed, I understand that Number 10 is now trying to systematically involve MPs in policy making. But Cameron is also simply showing MPs more respect than he has, perhaps, done in the past. I was struck by how at the launch of Charles Moore’s Thatcher biography and the 1922 anniversary party, both held last night, he didn’t – as he used to — arrive with a conspicuous entourage, glad-hand a few bigwigs and then leave. Instead, he made a visible effort to listen and talk to other guests.
Now, some will say that this and writing notes congratulating Tory MPs on their Commons speeches are all leadership basics that Cameron should have been doing from the start. There’s much truth to this. But if Cameron is determined to devote a proper amount of effort to keeping his own side on board and his MPs are prepared to reciprocate, then things are looking up for the Tories.
You can read James Forsyth’s full politics column on unity in the Tory party in the Spectator, available in print and online from tomorrow. Click here to subscribe.