Features

The Tories' Easter rising: inside the great Conservative crack-up

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

No one does political violence quite like the Tories. The fall of Margaret Thatcher in 1990 unleashed a cycle of reprisals that lasted until David Cameron became leader in 2005. During that time, Tories specialised in factionalism: wets vs dries, Europhiles vs Eurosceptics, modernisers vs traditionalists. Cameron’s great achievement was to unite the party in pursuit of power. Now that unity is coming undone.

You can blame Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour for the latest Conservative breakdown. The Tory wars of the mid-1990s were fuelled by a sense that defeat was inevitable: since the Conservatives weren’t going to beat Tony Blair, they felt they might as well fight each other. This time round, the Tory wars are being stoked by a sense that the party can’t lose; that they will win the next election whatever happens. They look at Corbyn and conclude that they can knock lumps out of each other without fear.

Once, Iain Duncan Smith might have thought better of a public resignation that took aim at the very foundation of this government: the argument that it is reducing the deficit in a fair manner. As a former leader he knows better than most how disunity drags the party down. But with Labour not much more than a sideshow, he felt free to resign in order to make a political point about welfare reform. He has long complained — privately, and not so privately — that the protection of pensions had come at too great a cost to working-age benefits. He had implemented £33 billion of George Osborne’s cuts, he told Cameron, and couldn’t do any more.

His unease was exacerbated by the sheer number of spending statements recently — four in the past year alone. With the fiscal forecasts worsening, this latest Budget was always going to strain the delicate relationship between Osborne’s Treasury and IDS’s Department for Work and Pensions.

When John Major was handling Budget negotiations, he used to ask his colleagues to send their resignation threats in early. He saw such tactics as essentially bogus. Somewhere along the way, Cameron began to adopt a similar attitude to arguments with IDS. Before each Budget they would re-enact the same drama. The Treasury would demand more welfare cuts, and the Work and Pensions Secretary would protest — even hint at resignation — and in the end they’d muddle through. This time, however, the Prime Minister was distracted by Europe and did not intervene early enough in the process to prevent the drama from turning into a crisis.

But what makes IDS’s departure so dangerous to Tory unity is that it was about more than just welfare policy. It was about the style, point and purpose of Conservatism itself. His resignation was not directly about the EU, but to understand his motives, you must appreciate how the referendum is unbalancing the Tories. IDS has been heard to complain that the Prime Minister had become obsessed with Europe to the exclusion of domestic policy. The EU debate has weakened the ties that usually bind the party together. It has made Tory ministers and MPs quicker than ever to think the worst of their colleagues and created an atmosphere in which everyone is ready to snap. Without the strain of the referendum campaign, IDS might have been more prepared to compromise. The nerves of No. 10 would not have been so shredded. And Cameron would not have replied to a former leader’s resignation letter with an ill-advised escalation.

When Cameron ran for the Tory leadership ten years ago, Daniel Finkelstein — the Times columnist and former aide to William Hague, now a Tory peer — remarked that Cameron’s gang should be known not as the ‘Notting Hill set’ but the ‘Smith Square set’, since both Cameron and Osborne had worked in Conservative Central Office there. Professional experience more than social background is the key to understanding the current Tory tensions. Osborne and Cameron represent a new political class. They are professional politicians who went straight from university to Westminster.


As befits former Tory staffers, Cameron and Osborne believe in a strong centre. Neither has much time for the preoccupations of MPs. They want to focus their party on electoral realities. They both suffer from the deforming certainty of the political aide, projecting impatience towards those who disagree and a sense that life would be better if everyone would just do what they say.

Since the general election, when the Tory-led coalition turned into a majority government, their attitude has become even more centralising. No. 10 and No. 11 now govern the country as a duopoly: cabinet government has not been restored. The former Liberal Democrat minister David Laws found himself sat next to Duncan Smith in a BBC studio on Sunday, and was surprised to be told how much some Tories miss the Lib Dems. In the coalition era, Tories as well as their Lib Dem partners felt consulted. Now ministers such as Duncan Smith feel that they are simply told what to do. No politician appreciates making it to the Cabinet table only to find out that the real action is taking place elsewhere, and Duncan Smith is far from the only minister to have served under Cameron and Osborne who would describe themselves as ‘semi-detached’ from decisions about their own area of responsibility.

Such tensions should have been manageable, especially given that Cameron and Osborne had led the Tories to such an extraordinary and unexpected majority. After that triumph, all but the most implacable critics had to admit that these former special advisers knew what they were doing. But Cameron and Osborne seem to have counted rather heavily on that conclusion. In 2010, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor quickly realised they had to tread carefully with their party because they were in coalition. This time they felt they had earned the right to be obeyed.

They had reckoned without the issue of Europe, the greatest philosophical and emotional divide in the Tory party. The EU referendum is doing to the Tories what Iraq did to Labour: dividing the leader from almost half his MPs and the vast majority of his activists. And like Blair on Iraq, Cameron is emotionally invested in his strategy — and foolishly conceding nothing to his critics. He often sounds contemptuous of the Brexiteers, treating them as if they just don’t understand the realities of power in the modern world. That lack of respect is now returned.

It didn’t have to be this way. Earlier this year, Duncan Smith himself was privately arguing for a code of conduct for ‘out’ ministers. He wanted them to refuse to debate other Tory ministers on television, to swear off impugning their colleagues’ motives, and to avoid attacking the Prime Minister. For a while, No. 10 was keen to show gratitude towards IDS for being so constructive: he was the model internal opponent.

His attitude changed about six weeks ago, when the EU published the first draft of the proposed deal. The Prime Minister, ministers claim, told the cabinet he wouldn’t campaign for it until it had been agreed with them. But then he went straight off to a campaign-style event to make the case for his deal. Duncan Smith, always sensitive to slights, felt that he had been treated as a fool.

At this point, there may be no good referendum result for the Tory party. Cameron could win and yet struggle to reunite his forces afterwards. The party will feel as guilty about having confirmed Britain’s EU membership as it did about deposing Margaret Thatcher. But should the Brexiteers triumph, the Cameroons will believe their man has been stabbed in the back. Already, Tory ministers argue that a Boris Johnson leadership would be illegitimate because he would have attained the top job by embracing a cause, leaving the EU, which they claim he doesn’t really believe in.

Johnson is undeniably now the frontrunner for the Tory leadership. This means that he has a target on his back. One cabinet minister, an Osborne loyalist, tells me: ‘Someone has to stop the blond.’ They will have their work cut out, because the next Tory leader is to be selected by a vote of the full party membership. Countering Boris’s popularity among the grass roots in that final round will be extremely difficult for anyone who is not already an established figure. ‘John Major wouldn’t have won in 1990 under these rules,’ one Tory MP points out.

The danger for the Conservative party is that, as after 1990, it is entering an era where the legitimacy of the leader is not accepted. This is bound to cause instability.

Putting the party back together again will require a different approach from Cameron. The Smith Square set will have to listen more to their MPs. They will need to follow Douglas Hurd’s advice after the Westland affair and return to cabinet government. High on Cameron’s to-do list for the day after the referendum should be the appointment of a party chairman who can act as an honest broker between the leader and the party. The current chair, Andrew Feldman, is too close to No. 10 to serve that purpose; his links with Cameron go back to their shared Oxford college, Brasenose, where they organised a summer ball together. Cameron will need to show that he is proceeding with ‘malice towards none’, that there will be no revenge on the Brexiteers.

There will be those on Cameron’s side of the argument who ask why he should be conciliatory. As they would angrily point out, he took the Tories back into government after 13 years in opposition. He won them their first majority in 23 years. The party should let him lead.

But if the Cameroons want to know why they should heed the views of their internal opponents, they just need to look at the benches opposite. Tony Blair returned Labour to government after 18 years out of power, and delivered three successive election victories. Now his party is led by someone who defines himself in opposition to him and everything he did. If the Smith Square set are to avoid that fate, they will need to pay more heed to their members — both in Parliament and the country.

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Show comments
  • EmilyEnso

    Such tensions should have been manageable, especially given that Cameron
    and Osborne had led the Tories to such an extraordinary and unexpected
    majority.

    You must be kidding.
    Cameron got little more than a third of the vote.
    It was the corruption and stitch up of the TPTP voting system that gave Cameron his majority – not the people.
    He has no public mandate at all.
    He as good as hijacked the government.
    UKIP 4,000,000 votes 1 seat.
    Tories 11,000,000 votes 331 seats. An overall majority from little more than a third of voters.
    UKIP should have 83 seats.
    Modern democracies across the world elect their governments on PR – proportional representation – where every vote counts – where safe seats AKA rottenboroughs are done away with and where real democracy creates governments.
    We need it here by 2020 – to stop the the power of minorities in marginal seats determining our next government if for no other reason.

    • Countrywatch

      Well said, Emily.

    • #toryscum

      But…. you could argue the reason so many people voted UKIP (and Green for that matter) is that they knew it was nothing more than a token of resistance, with no prospect of having any real affect.
      You haven’t taken the behavioral effect into account; changing the rules doesn’t mean people would behave in exactly the same way and give you a difference result.

      • EmilyEnso

        Which was ridiculous.
        A few more votes and UKIP would have held the balance of power which was the aim.
        Instead of simplistic and unsophisticated thinking of being scared into voting in case another party got into power – they should have had the wit to realise the lib/lab/con are all the same – not a tissue between them and you get the same policy if you vote for any of them.
        Mass immigration, unvasion, occupation and the islamification of whats left of Britain in the EU.
        UKIP was and is the only opposition.
        If we had PR it would have 83 seats in the House and things today would already be very different.

        AS for saying PR wouldn’t make a difference – I regret to say you clearly haven’t looked into the matter.
        The election results would be hugely different – and every vote would mean something – it would be democracy – not a two party stitch up.

        • #toryscum

          I didn’t say PR wouldn’t make a difference, it would make a huge difference, and that’s the point. You can’t change the rules and expect people to behave in the same way. Using the results of a first past the post election to predict a PR election is just not accurate.

          • EmilyEnso

            Sorry I don’t see your point.
            Under FPTP people had just as much opportunity to vote UKIP and 4,000,000 of us with common sense, understanding, patriotism and the desire to do the right thing by Britain did so.
            I may say it was futile to vote for any of the lib.lab/con unless you wanted what you have.
            Blairism, the heir to Blairism and a complete sell out to the EU and to islam by a Cameron government.

          • JoeCro

            UKIP are a joke that will soon fade into obscurity.

          • EmilyEnso

            UKIP holds the most MEPs for Britain in the EU parliament.
            UKIP should have 83 seats in the House.
            You are rather premature in your claim.

          • #toryscum

            I’m not arguing for or against PR. I’m just saying that introducing PR won’t necessarily mean people vote the same way.
            Here’s an example. Last year 484,391 went to watch tennis at Wimbledon. Say in 2016 the LTA increases the entry charge to £1,000- would they make £484,391,000 in gate receipts? Or would no one go?
            The point is that is you change the rules, people change their behavior. So saying UKIP should have 83 MPs is fairly nonsensical.

          • EmilyEnso

            In fact more people will vote UKIP under PR.
            There is no longer the propaganda of a wasted vote syndrome.
            Need proof.
            The SNP.
            It was under PR in the Scottish parliament it got its real chance.
            This is why the establishment have resorted to blatant lies to prevent it in a general election and also deny the English a parliament.
            Because they know UKIP like SNP will go from strength to strength with fair voting.
            They won the EU elections after all – on the PR system..

          • #toryscum

            Ah, that’s the crux of it, and where we disagree. Your assumption is a huge what it.
            There’s been a lot written about PR (half PR really) in Scotland. and not all of it is positive. Nearly a third of voters don’t understand how the ‘first’ and ‘second’ vote system actually works. Perhaps not the best example.

          • EmilyEnso

            You clearly haven’t a clue about PR.
            There is no first and second.
            You are confused by AV by looks of things.
            You should check out PR before you continue posting rather than posting misleading and incorrect statements.
            The Germans and Danes have just held their elections under PR.
            Most Europeans do.

          • #toryscum

            Scotland uses AMS (additional member system), it’s not full PR. Perhaps you should check it out.

          • EmilyEnso

            I said a form of PR in the regional parliaments.
            Also in NZ where it has been most successful.
            We use straight PR in this country to elect our MEPs.
            UKIP of course topped the poll.
            Most countries using PR use the straight form aas well.
            Votes mean seats.
            You get the proportion of seats in parliament in accordance with the number of votes.
            UKIP would have 83 seats at Westminster under this fair and proper system of democracy.
            Not 1.
            In Scotland the SNP took 56 out of 59 seats at the last election on 50% of the vote.
            Labour got 23%/24% and got 1.
            How this can be tolerated in a western country surprises me.
            It is blatantly unfair and makes Zimbabwe and North Korea almost look good..

          • #toryscum

            You specifically cited Scotland as an example of how amazing PR is, but it doesn’t use PR! Who doesn’t have a clue now Enso.

          • Brian Jones

            The Italians have PR and have more changes of government than Farage has beers. The reason that the SNP did so well at the GE was that the Scots had got sick of Labour treating them mas voting fodder.

          • EmilyEnso

            So you prefer FPTP which is an elective dictatorship.
            And that from Lord Hailsham.
            Without any restraints on a governments power even when they go off the ropes.
            Germany, Denmark and most European countries have PR.
            The problem is the Italians – not the system.
            http://electoral-reform.org.uk/make-seats-match-votes
            http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/british-politics/first-past-the-post/

          • KingEric

            I think his point is that if you could turn back time and have the General Election, but this time with full PR instead of FPTP, that the number of votes for each of the parties would have been different. For example, traditional labour voters in a safe Tory seat might have voted UKIP as it didn’t matter but if there was PR and each vote counted, might well have stuck with Labour.
            Therefore your assertion that UKIP would have won 83 seats at the last election would more than likely not have been borne out.

          • EmilyEnso

            In fact you present here an excellent case for PR.
            Where people are not forced to vote for parties they don’t support rather than ones they do.
            They don’t make negative votes to stop a party but positive ones for a party.
            Surely that is true democracy and we must bring in PR and follow most of the western democratic world in using it.
            There were for instance extremely credible reports coming out across the north that Tory voters were being told by assoc. and MPs to vote Labour in seats where UKIP threatened to unseat Labour MPs.
            A completely negative abuse of the democratic system

            Evidence that the lib/lab/con are completely interchangeable.
            However what hurt UKIP the most was the fraudulent and bogus performance of Cameron and Sturgeon petending the SNP would form a coalition with Labour.
            The SNP wanted a Tory victory – quite openly on many sites – labour was their opposition.
            But the lie was made so convincingly by the Tory party machine – the brilliant playacting by Sturgeon and Cameron – made to look so threatening to British existence – the result being that many potential UKIPpers voted Tory to stop the faux danger, the supposed chaos the Scottish posed. All a scam.

            Voters have admitted it in posts like these – and I personally know of some.
            It was a fraud and scam and that the MSM colluded says nothing for the journalistic pressitutes.It is a miracle in itself that with all the lies, abuse, cries of racism and other nonsense UKIP took 4,000,000 votes over a third of the Tory vote and got 1 seat to the tories 331.
            Its also shows the shocking abuse of the system of FPTP.
            That UKIP and Farage have proven themselve 100% right ever since the vote speaks volumes.

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            A democracy is a country in which representatives are elected by the people therefore Britain is a democracy. To try to argue otherwise would be ignorant. A democratic vote might not result in the outcome that one would like to see. That doesn’t make it any less democratic. Or are you trying to suggest that Britain has never had a legitimate government? In addition neither you nor Ukip voters have a monopoly on patriotism, commonsense, understanding or wanting to do the right thing. In fact your posts suggest a fundamental lack of understanding about the electoral system.

          • EmilyEnso

            Half a million people recently petitioned the government to introduce a fair voting system used by most western democracies – Proportional Representation.
            The government’s response was a NO based on a lie which even for Cameron was blatant and dishonest.

            PR is a fair voting system where every vote counts.
            With FPTP all votes that are not for the winning candidate in a constituency end up in the trash can and all those voters have no actual representative voted for by them in the House of Commons.
            They are disenfranchised.
            Anyone living in a ‘safe seat’ which are basically rottenboroughs, done away with many years ago but which have reappeared – if of a different political persuasion – has no chance of ever getting representation in the house.
            We elect our MEPs by PR.
            We use a form in the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies.
            It should be used in the General Election as well.
            4,000,000 votes under PR would give UKIP 83 seats in the House – it has 1.
            4,000,000 voters share one MP.
            If you call that democracy you certainly have a very flexible view of what democracy means.

          • Brian Jones

            And the other 40 odd thousand voters chose not to vote for a party that put up more clowns as candidates than the Monster Raving Looney mob.

        • jeremy Morfey

          Could it be that the UKIP vote was scuppered by polls putting Miliband’s Labour Party in the lead, or at least in a position where it could cobble up a Coalition with the left-leaning pro-EU SNP? In seats (and there were many) where a cross for UKIP may well have deprived a Tory of a seat, the inclination for UKIP sympathisers may have been to stick with the Tories in 2015.

          The situation where four million votes was supported by one representative in the Commons was bound to cause dismay over Parliamentary democracy, and how better to express this than to vote for Brexit?

          • EmilyEnso

            Jeremy that is exactly what happened.
            And it was a total scam between the SNP and theTories.
            And the Tory press and pressitutes promoted the scam.
            The SNP wanted and needed a Tory win.
            Many of the sites made this clear.
            Labour was their competition in Scotland.
            They want independence and they will only get it past the Scots with a villainous Tory government.
            Why would the Scots vote independence with a Labour government in Westminster.
            So the SNP and Tories colluded to bring you the Nicola and Dave horse and pony show – oscar performances – to scare the UKIP and ditherers into voting for Dave to stop a Labour victory and SNP coalition.
            Its the biggest election lie and fraud we had seen for years.
            But people fell for it – why I can’t imagine but the media promoted it for Dave like good little tory poodles.
            You are just watching Dave give Nicola all the goodies the SNP clearly demanded for their share of conning English voters.
            Why the surprise mind you coming from Dave.
            Financial overspending and cheating in seat after seat and the unanswered questions of the missing ballots of South Thanet show the level of desperation the Tories sank to to win even their bit over a third of the vote.
            No public mandate in that but thanks to a disgraceful electoral system they could hijack the government and take over half the seats on that meagre percentage.

      • CC

        If most of the British press, the leftie BBC hate UKIP then thats a
        good enough reason to vote UKIP, they got their most ever votes last May
        in a British General Election almost 4 million. Now you may not know
        UKIP won Thanet Council by a thumping majority but Nigel Farage did not
        win
        Thanet in the General Election, voting was at same time, very very strange, also
        the ballot boxes went missing for over 6 hours…… very very strange.
        A pencil is supplied to each voter NOT a pen…….. I will let you have a think about that.
        How fair do you think the British General Election voting is, its from the Victorian days
        and very very strange UKIP won the EU MEP elections for Great Britain but they use
        a P.R. voting system for that.
        Have a study of this link:
        http://www.ukipdaily.com/wp-co
        Now using my maths the Scottish Nationalists got 1,454,436 votes and got 56 Mps
        so
        thats 25,972 votes per MP they have, now study UKIP got 3,881,129 votes
        – almost 4 million and got ONE MP, now our so called leaders may think
        we are simpletons but using my maths I reckon UKIP should have 149 MPs
        if compared to
        the SNPs tally per MP. It really is a disgrace.

    • TheLiberalArms

      Good piece on how, considering the risk of American isolationism, this is a terrible moment to risk Brexit http://youth4inuk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/the-threat-of-isolationist-america.html

      • Pioneer

        You aren’t getting many takers for that nonsense.

  • Nick

    The way our government was elected and the way it governs is as corrupt as any third world country.

    We all know that our voting system is wrong and that it should be changed.

  • misomiso

    all he had to give us was Brexit, then he could lead us anywhere he wanted.

    Alas he is as obssesed and fanatical about Europe as Heseltine.

  • William MacDougall

    Yes, but the Tory division began with Cameron becoming Leader. A third to a half of members left, many defecting to UKIP. Cameron betrayed traditionalists and Eurosceptics, among others, and certainly was no unifier…

    • JoeCro

      Without Cameron the Tories would still be in the doldrums. Cameron is a winner.

      • William MacDougall

        He still split the Party. But anyway he lost in 2010, when he should have won, and only won in 2015 because of the demise of the Lib-Dems…

        • carlos jones

          Cameron won 41% of the vote in England, the only place he will have real power over. His small or non existent majorities is more to do with the pro labour electoral system, than his popularity, which is higher than the party generally. Another leader would have lost to milliband.

          • William MacDougall

            Another leader would have won in 2010. Even the hapless IDS was polling better at his peak, and against Blair… And the electoral system is also strongly pro-Tory.

          • carlos jones

            Id be interested to see you evidence that another leader would have done better than Cameron, who is more popular than the party generally, I suppose if the conservatives leader had been a cross between jfk, fdr and Churchill he may have, but alas only David Davis was available.
            Ids polled on average around 30% see ukpollingreport website, which is the bare minimum a major uk party could expect. The electoral system is still strongly pro labour, Cameron got 37% of the vote and just about got a majority of 12. Blair in 2005 got 35% and achieved a 66 majority. Hopefully the the boundry changes will partly remedy this blantant inequity. Cameron’s share of the vote in 2010 would have achieved a big majority for labour.

          • William MacDougall

            IDS polled 37% a few times in 2003, against Tony Blair, better than Cameron managed against Gordon Brown. What is your evidence that another candidate would have done worse against Miliband?

            And yes the system is slightly more biased in favour of Labour, but still with barely more than a third of the vote the Tories won over 50% of the seats in 2010. UKIP, the Greens, and the Lib Dems most years faced far greater injustice. You either believe in PR or you don’t, and if you don’t then you can’t complain about the Tory seats result.

          • carlos jones

            Touting ids gaining a few 37% polling rating in 2003 as a means of attacking Cameron is perhaps the dictionary definition of clutching at straws. You haven’t/ can’t prove anybody would have done better against milliband. Cameron gained 41% of vote in England, the only place he will really govern, I can’t think of any higher vote achieved by any other party in multi party elections in large democracy’s. What needs and hopefully will happen after redistricting, is for the winners bonus inherent under fptp to be equal for both major parties.

          • William MacDougall

            You haven’t proved that anyone else would have done worse. And FPTP isn’t a winner’s bonus system. For that see Greece. It’s a local representation system that has a random relationship with national polling numbers. If you don’t like that, then go for PR.

          • carlos jones

            A) because you can’t prove definitively that someone else would have done better and to do so would be meaningless speculation. You could claim kermet the frog as leader would have done better, and I could not comprehensively disprove such an assertion, although sometimes a little common sense goes a long way.

            B) ideally fptp would achieves both local representation, with a strong government that achieves government by plurality without the squalid deals pr creates and resultant tale waging the dog. Fairer boundaries will help achieve this goal by reducing the current pro labour bias.

      • Frank

        Yes, getting a majority of 11 against the weakest Labour Leader since Michael Foot was a real coup!

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      Are you serious? TheConservative Party has been divided on the European question since at least the Thatcher period.

      • William MacDougall

        Of course, but not to the extent of large numbers leaving the Party…

      • Frank

        Indeed, which is the root of its current problems. The Party should probably have addressed this at the time rather than sweep it under the carpet. It currently appears to contain a fair few MPs who would probably be happier in other political parties!

  • Michael Hall

    Intersting article and many valid points. Not sure that listening to the members of the Conservative Party will avoid the fate of the present Labour Party. Party memberships are generally more to the left or right than their MP’s. It is the centre ground that wins majorities. Mr Corbyn would never have won the Labour leadership if the MP’s decided alone. The Prime Minister will need to bring together his party after the referendum but I assume that will be done by giving some power to those causing most trouble on the “outside”; Boris.I am sure he will make a very entertaining party chairman and then things will get interesting.

  • paul

    Typical load of self serving right wing bollox.. Forsyth is taking the biscuit for mentioning that the current state of the Labour Party is to blame for The Nasty Party Civil War and did anyone see Osborne laughing with Gove when John McDonnell asked Osborne to apologise to the disabled people on PIPS who have been mentally tortured by our disgusting Chancellor’s inhumane actions !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    No one does political violence quite like the Tories

    Right, and let’s all pretend that ISIS, the PLO, the IRA, Soviet Russia, the N@zi Party,

    • “political violence”

      • JabbaPapa

        “political violence” = violence (physical or otherwise) that os politically motivated. you twerp.

        • Resorting to insults. Feeling defensive are we?

          The writer was clearly referring to aggressive politics.

  • Lady Magdalene

    With luck, the British people will vote to leave the EU and Cameron will be out on his ear shortly afterwards.

    He could no more unite the Conservative Party, than Blair could unite Labour.

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      Perhaps, however Blair enjoyed historically almost unprecedented huge majorities, whereas Cameron in comparison is skating on thin ice, so cannot afford the luxury of dissenters.

  • JSC

    IDS actions were stupid, but for Cam/Osborn to immediately u-turn on the policy is idiocy of the highest degree; do they know what precedent they’ve just set? Every policy they ever put forward from now on that ticks-off a couple of lefties is a target for mass demonstrations, you can see the BMA gearing up for it right now. There was a reason the Iron Lady wasn’t for turning; it was because she realised that as soon as you do you’ll find yourself making so many 180’s you’re spinning on the spot and going nowhere. Unbelievable.

    • hobspawn

      Like Heath.

    • Alex

      For “ticks off”, read “bumps off”; for “a couple of lefties” read “a couple of thousand disabled people”

  • Paul

    “Months after a historic election victory, party unity is in pieces. What can David Cameron do about it?”

    Nothing, hopefully. Hand me the popcorn and let’s all watch and enjoy as this mean-minded, incompetent, vindictive party tears itself to bits. The next few months are gonna be absolutely hilarious – I can’t wait.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Soon be time for Liam Fox to make another failed leadership bid.

    • Brian Jones

      The Conservatives are divided on Europe and admit it , Labour on the other hand are divided on Europe but are prepared to sit on the fence until they see which way the wind is blowing. Despite the media’s clamour for the Conservatives to implode they will pull together whatever the result of the referendum .

  • tl;dr: Cameron’s arrogance is his weakness. Can’t say I disagree.

  • davidshort10

    IDS is a fraud and a fool. He has consistently rubbed the noses of the unfortunate in the doo-doo. He kept going on about people ‘returning to work’. How can someone in political charge of the DWP not know the simple fact that the number of unemployed is three or four times the number of vacancies and that that ration is much wider in the north? A pretty blond young Polish woman or a young Latvian man can hop off an easyJet at Gatwick and be working in a bar or restaurant the next day. Could a jowly middle-aged Liverpudlian man or a forty-something Brummie woman do so? IDS is almost as out of touch as Lord Snooty and his pals, who have never had to worry about paying an electricity bill or wondering where the next pay cheque is coming from in their lives.

    • hobspawn

      As an Out campaigner, IDS is doing more for the “jowly middle-aged Liverpudlian man” than Camerin, Corbin and Sturgein.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Blond, male
      Blonde, female.
      Not many people know this. Right, Dave?

      • EUSSR 4 All!

        Twit (male).

  • davidshort10

    And Cameron could just have shrugged it off. Instead he showed his true, dictatorial colours in his reaction to the resignation. He was saved by the Brussels affair, which knocked IDS off the front page.

  • Morris Jasper

    That is an eggcellent Illustration. Cracking Stuff.

  • Disqus Bolloqus

    The complacency over the prospects of Labour winning an election is alarming. All that needs to happen is for Labour to win sufficient seats in England to deny the Conservatives an overall majority in UK, and then form a pact with the SNP. Not such a far fetched possibility when you look at the closeness of the 2015 election result. The Conservative majority is slim and could easily fall apart if the economy falters and/or Party unity shatters in wake of Referendum vote. Complacency begets a fall, and Conservatives should take the Labour threat seriously.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Yes Corbyn needs about 30 seats off the Tories.

  • hobspawn

    Let’s get out.

  • Frank

    Can all journalists please stop talking about Cameron’s extraordinary election victory. He scrapped home against the weakest opponent seen in British politics since Michael Foot. This was not, by any definition, an extraordinary victory.
    Secondly the chances of Cameron surviving in office more than a few weeks after the Referendum are probably zero, so his entire political entourage of buddies and sycophants will hopefully be swept out of No 10 Downing Street with him.
    Finally, there is a good argument that the Conservative Party’s long term health depends upon the Party re-defining its core values (apart from anything else, it is deeply tedious to have two parties fighting over the centre ground, it offers no electoral choice and group think is very dangerous, eg the 2008 Climate Change Act) – this need to re-discover its (authentic) roots is highlighted by the fact that its current leader calls himself the heir to Blair (which is rather like saying that all political success is based on lies and PR).
    As for Cameron ‘s infatuation with the EU, it is the improbable but concrete sign of a Conservative leader who has gone rogue!

    • amicus

      Scrapped home?

      • Frank

        Speed typing!

        • Space 1999

          Happens to the best of us!

        • Space 1999

          Happens to the best of us!

        • Space 1999

          Happens to the best of us!

        • Space 1999

          Happens to the best of us!

  • James

    I have never voted Labour but will vote for Corbyn. Cameron & Osbourne Elite Tax-free Consultants PLC have brought the Conservative party into disrepute.

  • jeffersonian

    ‘What can David Cameron do about it?’

    Resign.

  • Rob74

    I don’t buy that he left because Cameron is focused on the EU. I think he left because the budget was ill thought out and Cameron is dead in the water.

  • mikewaller

    When are the Specky’s bright young things going to wake up to the fact that Corbyn is not a no-hoper? I abhor his politics but was most impressed by the confident ease with which he addressed the teachers yesterday. However, the killer point is made in John R. MacArthur’s brilliant article on page 14. All across the Western world there are hundreds of millions of potential voters who are waking up to the fact that they have been sold the same kind of pup with regard to globalisation and free trade as they were with immigration. As MacArthur points out, this is the wave Trump and other protest politicians are riding, and if the Tories don’t start showing that “we are all in it together” for real, the dustbin of history awaits.

  • JohnnyNorfolk

    Cameron & Co should be far more Eurosceptic. He is just like a lap dog. He makes me feel sick.

    • Space 1999

      Should anybody be surprised?

      He did once call himself “the heir to Blair”…

    • Space 1999

      Should anybody be surprised?

      He did once call himself “the heir to Blair”…

    • terence patrick hewett

      He makes my sick feel sick.

  • Sargon the bone crusher

    At least not more crap about the murderous fenian ‘Easter Rising’ – it was simply terrorist mass killing where large numbers of citizens of all ages died. They were bloody monsters and murderers, gutless in striking during the horror of the war, in which they cleverly avoided action. The State that came about as a result has a filthy starting history.

  • antoncheckout

    Osborne’s latest budget was incompetent: that is the problem.
    He fluffed dismantling the monstrously unfair tax credits – an electoral bribe that was Brown’s great weapon in getting better-off couples to vote for him. Osborne chickened out because he feared the middle-class backlash if people were told to just make do with their salaries. He also refused to consider pensions reform. So every lazy ar$e in the country gets one, regardless of whether they paid in at all. And every well-heeled multi-property owner gets a winter fuel payment, even if they live in Andalusia or Crete.

    The disability PIP definitely, urgently needs reform, but in the context of other welfare cuts. The singling out of PIP was wrong, and Osborne’s presentation dismally insensitive.

    But the festering sore at the base is Cameron’s perfidy. Was he even trying? He convinced nobody in Brussels. And he certainly came away with very, very little – and of that little, nothing that an efficient Schulz/Daul/Brok EU-parliamentary coalition and a bit of slippery-tongued EC doublethink and French resistance can’t do away with entirely. Merkel crowed with delight that now Germany can use the British-won reduction of child benefit for new arrivals. But she did little or nothing to help general reform.
    And then Cameron came back and and started trumpeting his ‘success’, feeding it to the FT and treating cabinet like a cc email…

    If I were a minister, that wouldn’t make me dislike him: it’d make me want to destroy him.

  • Ipsmick

    Let us imagine that, in the next few months, the Labour party realises firstly that that Corbyn is dead meat, and, secondly, that people would appreciate an alternative to neoliberal politics. Let us imagine that it deals with Corbyn and elect, instead, someone who appears to inhabit a world recognisable to the rest of us (something that applies neither to Johnson nor Osborne, too) and goes on to demonstrate that we do not have to accept that neoliberalism is inviolable, and that it’s not intellectually problematic to come up with rather more attractive political alternatives. Under these circumstances a Conservative victory in 2020 may not be inevitable. The party attracted only 25% of the votes of the electorate last May.

    • gillardgone

      Did you see that little piggie fly by,

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  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Test
    At last. An article where I’m not blocked by Spectator blockheads who wouldn’t recognize talent if it came up and kicked them in the nuts
    Seem that DM article today on misuse of the apostraph

    • EUSSR 4 All!

      … In the backside …

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