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Whipping up a storm

24 October 2011

It looks like about a third of Tory backbenchers will rebel in tonight’s vote on
an EU referendum. 18 months into government, this is a massive rebellion and one that should make the Prime Minister think again about his style of party management. Those in Number 10 who claim
that many of the rebels will ‘never be happy’ are missing the point that, while there may be a hardcore of MPs keen to rebel, many more are reluctant rebels who feel they have been
pushed into it by Cameron’s failure to engage with the party on the whole issue of Europe.

One reluctant rebel said to me over the weekend: if you write anything about this please say that the whips office needs sorting out. He complained that his whip had only spoken to him once in the
last 12 months, had no idea what interested him and just assumed he would vote for the government regardless of what his constituents or conscience told him.

The whips are also failing in another way. Backbenchers have no confidence that they are listened to in Downing Street, or that the concerns of the backbenches are being communicated to the
leadership. For this reason, any shake-up of the whips office must include sending several of those MPs who are perceived to be closest to Cameron and Osborne socially and politically to the whips

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Show comments
  • Stewart

    Is Fox one of the rebels? If he were minded he could add his weight with the conservative wing of the party to the rebellion. I suppose his involvement will depend whether or not he sees a way back into the government before the next election or for however long Cameron remains as PM.

  • Robert Christopher

    “any shake-up of the whips office must include sending several of those MPs who are perceived to be closest to Cameron and Osborne socially and politically to the whips office”

    I would have thought sending several of those MPs who are perceived to have views closest to the electorate, in what they think of the EU, to the whips office would have shown more intelligence.

    Cameron and Osborne would soon fall in line.

  • Woody

    As usual all the attention is on the conservatives but you ignore Labour and the Lib Dems at your peril. Both parties are so pro-europe, they would sell their own grandmothers to the EU.
    If the conservatives weren’t so crap at getting their message across, they would be really pushing this.
    Don’t forget there was a department in the treasury dedicated to working towards us joining the euro, which I believe has now been scrapped, or so we are told.

  • RKing

    Listening to the debate it’s pretty obvious that Cameron has no intention of ever calling for a referendum.
    Utterly disgraceful!!
    You will pay for this Cameron I think you have lost the respect and votes of people who put you in power…….. farewell.

  • In2minds

    “any shake-up of the whips office must include sending several of those MPs who are perceived to be closest to Cameron and Osborne socially and politically to the whips office”.

    Aha! ‘People like us’, what an ideal strategy. It worked for Margaret Thatcher it can work again. That’s why it’s called the Conservative party, no new ideas, ever!

  • Bruce, UK

    Prior to the GE I did advise “Dave” via this publication not to pick fights where none are necessary and not to engage in battles that he cannot win. As before “Dave”, I am available if required to serve.

    Let’s face it, if you needed to find your arse with both hands any of your current crop of advisers could be held on to.

  • Dennis Churchill

    The problem is how our political class get into positions of leadership.
    The group at the top of the parliamentary party have no senior experience outside politics and very limited experience of peoples’ views outside their social bubble. It is a formula for failure and no other major organisation would be managed in such a way.

  • Ghengis

    Of course! Cameron, its a clan with form

  • Ghengis

    Methinks their are those who understand what Sovereign Nation means

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    When normally loyal MPs like Nick de Bois and Daniel Byles are prepared to tell the Whips’ Office to go and f**k themselves, you know this is not a rebellion of the usual suspects.

    This is where the chickens start to come home to roost, Dave – and it’s your own dismissive and arrogant approach to your Backbenchers that has landed you in this position.

    Get used to it – this is just the beginning of Backbencher ‘payback’…


  • wrinkled weasel

    Disgraceful is the word for this, a vote on allowing we the people to decide our future – and Cameron is whipping against it.

    The only good thing to come out of this is that when Cameron goes, or is about to be pushed, all those who were treated as lobby fodder today will remember and act accordingly.

    Cameron’s attitude over Europe is proof, if you needed it, that Parliament is not about democracy, it is about keeping a global elite in power.

  • Andy Carpark

    ‘One reluctant rebel said to me over the weekend: “Please James, friend of the friendless, before the tentacles of the Whips’ office suck me down forever into the primordial swamp, let the truth be known!” ‘

    Plausibility quotient: Zero.

  • Yam Yam

    The rebels should join the LibDems. They’d be listened to most attentively then.

  • saddleworth

    Backbenchers are getting a taste of how the parties have treated the electorate on this issue. All parties want to avoid finding out just what the electorate think of the EU and resolutely refuse to engage on the issue.
    If the MPs are frustrated with the issue they should pause and think how we feel.
    I have been a long long term conservative voter – but no more. Too many broken promises, too many patronising pats on the head by politicians telling us that they know better, too many telling us “it isn’t the right time” (it never is for them). Enough. This is one vote that the conservatives used to be able to count, but no more.

  • Russell

    It doesn’t matter if Cameron and Miliband ‘whip’ and threaten their MP’s if they don’t vote NO.
    The electorate will have the last word on this.
    MP’s (Labour & Conservatives)who ignore the demand for a referendum will find themselves without a job in 2015 at the next election, with people reluctantly voting for a single issue party, UKIP, for a one off term to ensure we get a referendum.

    When MP’s vote NO to a referendum today, they will force another petition, hopefully with millions of signatures, for another vote for a referendum.

    The EU practices ignoring NO votes and simply voting again and again until they get a YES vote, WE can do the same using the e-petition system.

    Let’s get co-operation from a number of newspapers to maximise the number of signatures on the government website.

  • strapworld

    Mr Forsyth. The ‘reluctant rebel’ surely did not need this particular subject to understand that Cameron does not listen to his backbenchers. Cameron considers himself beyond listening to those he considers beneath him. The man is a disgrace. He has to be removed at the earliest possible opportunity if the Conservative Party wish to win a general election again. He is a man that just cannot be trusted. A true man of straw.

    Just consider his record. He lost a general election against the worst Prime Minister in living memory. He has broken cast iron promises and many other promises on actions he has failed to deliver on. The list goes on and on.

    He should be shown the door as soon as possible and I hope more conservative MP’s show they have guts tonight, than the numbers being suggested. A massive kick in the backside for this cowardly, ignorant man would be a wonderful tonic for so many of us.

  • Andy H

    Why do we pay £65K a year, plus extravagant expenses for MP’s to do as they are told by number 10.

    If we don’t respect the right to vote non whipped then these people server absolutely no role in a democratic society. Shame on them…

  • Tony (Somerset)

    Cameron appears to be seriously over- reacting.

    When are we going to get a government that actually represents, respects, and supports the electorate ?

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