Coffee House

Senior Tories pile pressure on Cameron to chase core vote

5 October 2012

David Cameron has a tough task ahead of him for this week’s Conservative conference – a task that got a little harder when Ed Miliband surprised almost everyone by producing a cracking speech this week. The Prime Minister has a number of problems to tackle when he arrives in Birmingham. These include a rowdy party growing increasingly agitated about a number of issues including Europe, a chief whip sent in to control said rowdy party whose authority has been undermined before he has even started twisting arms, a chancellor struggling with his own authority on economic policy, and a Mayor determined to steal the show with his own conference speech and his building campaign against Heathrow expansion.

Two senior Conservatives have helpfully dispensed some advice for the Prime Minister today about how he can pull the party back together. Former defence secretary Liam Fox has a piece in the Telegraph in which he tells Cameron that the party needs to ‘reconnect with our own supporters’. He complains:

‘Many of them believe we are dominated by the political agenda of a metropolitan elite, and this sits uneasily with the social conservatism of much of the rest of the country.’

One of the issues that Fox and colleagues feel exemplifies the party’s current pandering to a metropolitan elite is gay marriage. He told Sky News a few months ago that he thought the party shouldn’t focus on an issue that wasn’t a priority for most people in society, and other MPs agree, even if they don’t oppose the legislation itself. I’ve spoken to a couple of Tory supporters of gay civil marriage who feel that Cameron’s push for it to become law has actually done the party damage overall as not only has it upset those social conservative core voters that Fox describes, but it has also flushed out strong opponents like Peter Bone, who have inflamed the debate by saying Cameron’s support for gay marriage makes them want to ‘throw up’.


A bigger issue still is Europe. Fox writes that the threat from UKIP is ‘a chance to produce a defining Conservative position as the truly national party at the next election. We need a renegotiated relationship within a defined time and a referendum at the end. Nothing less will do.’

On that note, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling also has some advice for his boss. He tells the House Magazine that there need to be ‘some symbolic statements’ similar to Cameron’s Brussels veto:

‘Now when I talk about EU veto moments, I don’t mean necessarily more vetos, but I think we will need some symbolic statements between now and the next election that say to the people who voted Conservative at the last election and indeed some of those who voted with their feet and stayed at home – or some of those who voted for UKIP – something that says to them ‘actually we like the idea of a second term majority Conservative Government, we believe and have confidence that it would do the kind of things we want it to do’ and it’s quite important we send messages to that effect.’

What is interesting about these two interventions is that both Grayling and Fox are convinced that taking the party to the right will lessen the electoral threat from UKIP and win the Conservatives the next general election. They are both piling pressure on Cameron to make a commitment that so far he has been very reluctant to do. His latest hint has been that he wants a fresh deal and fresh consent from the British people, but these two are asking for ‘symbolic statements’, presumably ones that lay down exactly what the Prime Minister intends to do.

Cameron still has a little while before 2015 in which to make those statements. But where he has less time is with his own backbenchers. They will be asked to support the party on a number of awkward Europe-related votes this autumn, where we may well see big rebellions, more resignations, and plenty of demands for something definitive from the PM. As David Davis points out in the House magazine this week, Andrew Mitchell’s ongoing troubles over his behaviour at the Downing Street gates will make his job far more difficult. He says:

‘He will have a difficult time. What does a Chief Whip have at his fingertips to deploy normally? Well, a mixture of charm, rewards, appeals to loyalty – all of those are diluted at the moment. There are very few jobs to be given out. They are going to have to steer the Parliamentary party through a time when it is not at all clear that our allies are still going to be our allies. It’s going to be very, very difficult.’

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  • Ruby

    Relationship Problems arise much more in politics. Politicians who seem to be friends at first becomes enemies the next time you see, due to political propaganda’s being issued by the other party which the friend is a member. Of course,because you oppose it you get problems with your buddy. And that leads to not communicating.not even saying hi or meeting the other’s eye when you bumped into each other. This is a fact that we are facing everyday.

  • David Barnett

    Taking the Party to the right may attract a few headbangers back to the fold, but will antagonise many moderate and floating voters. We have lost far more voters to the Lib Dems than we have to UKIP.

    Also, I am sure many UKIP voters will come back to us come the election. Many of their recent converts are more worried about immigration than Europe. It’s not a fact that many people wish to come to terms with, but true all the same, that Europe is still not much of an issue where the vast majority of people are concerned.

  • Nick

    In the last election I voted Tory in order to get Labour out of power.But now the Tories have proven to be just as weak as Labour & Cameron is simply another Tony Blair clone…..Next time I WILL vote for UKIP.
    The Conservative & Labour Parties are virtually identical parties & couldn’t manage a booze up on one of her majesties warships……..They’d even get that wrong.

  • ButcombeMan

    It is far too late for “symbolic statements” from Cameron.

    Fox is out of touch as well.

    That sort of thing (promises) just will not be believed.

    It is over. Many previously, totally loyal, Tory voters, have just had enough.

    There is now nothing much Cameron can do to repair the damage he has done.

    UKIP will poll thousands of extra votes. They will be protest votes taken from all parties.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    When is your core vote not your core vote? When you deliberately set out to alienate it and drove it into the welcoming arms of UKIP – the only real conservative/libertarian party in the UK.
    Grayling, Fox and Cameron can whistle all they like: we’re not coming back for any hints, promises or cast-iron pledges.
    We want our country back.
    LibLabCON betrayed the British people by signing away our Sovereignty without a mandate. All 3 parties have form when it comes to reneging on EU Referendums and any promises made by Cameron’s CON should be treated with disdain. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  • forloppa

    If you want out of Europe: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)
    If you want a flat rate of tax: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)
    If you want to repeal the fox hunting ban: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)
    If you want to repeal the Bill of Human Rights: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)
    If you want to trade with the world: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)
    If you want all immigrants since 1997 vetted: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)
    If you want an English parliament: Vote UKIP 2013 (Council), 2014 (EU), 2015 (GE)

    et cetera…

  • Dimoto

    Is the term “senior Tories” the latest journalese for right-wing outliers ?

  • Cogito Ergosum

    The Conservative Party will not win if it appeals only to its core vote. The Conservative Party will not win of it loses all its core vote.

    A statesmanlke political leader would find a way of reconciling these two incompatible positions.

    • Coffeehousewall

      How are these incompatible?

      The Conservative Party must appeal to its core vote, but not only to its core vote. These are not incompatible at all. Though it is unlikely that Cameron will make any effort to do what is required. He seems determined to alienate the core vote and the non-core vote at the same time.

    • Cogito Ergosum

      The “core vote” as evidenced in this column is seriously anti-europe, and would be even if the French were subsidising British farmers. They say they are not anti-europe but anti EU. I don’t believe that. What we are seeing is the “little England” dreamworld.

      The uncommitted voters are particularly uncommitted to little England: they suspect it is a scheme to benefit a minority of wide boys at the expense of the general public.

      You would think that smooth talkers like the Conservative leadership would easily find words to satisfy both sides.

  • 2trueblue

    Sadly I think that it is all over for Cameron. There is no defining moment that one can reflect on where he communicates that he has any clear idea what the needs of the centre right in the country are. The electorate today are fed 24hr news and with the BBC mainly on the left if he had anything to tell us that would persuade us to trust him again I doubt it would be fairly articulated in the media, but would be presented in soundbites to distort it.
    Promising jam tomorrow is not something that we will fall for again. Both parties promised a referendum, and in the 13yrs Liebore did not and would not deliver. Cameron made a hash of his attempt in 13days! UKIP will gain at the next election, and a preview will help to give us a truer picture at the EU elections next year.
    Getting people to vote will be the biggest challenge. We are all jaded with the lack of any real people in the frame that we deem trustworthy. MPs in general present themselves as out of touch and with very poor communication skills. I am not interested in their families, experiences, where they came from, I want to know where they are taking us and how they will get us there. The lack of real talent is obvious not just in the UK but in the international field. I am pushed to name one whom I find impressive.

  • Vulture

    The EU is not a single issue – let alone a peripheral one – because it vitally affects every other issue: the economy, crime, defence, immigration you name it, the EU holds the whip hand over it and us. We are no longer governing ourselves and there is no difference between the three main parties who all agree to our disappearence as a free nation.
    They are, in short, under the terrible trio of Dave Ed and Nick all the bloody same.
    Therefore the possibility that voting UKIP will let Labour in does not scare us. UKIP have enough support to dish the Tories even if they were not as terminally unpopular as Dave’s staggering incompetence has made them. But dumping Dave after an election defeat is a necessary preconditon to electing a party leader who will put Britain before Brussels and get us out of the whole stinking mess. It’s quite simple really.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Since the Lisbon Treachery, we are also required to manage our economy for the benefit of the EU, not the UK. Our Chancellor’s Budget Statement has to be signed off by Brussels.
      There is far less fear of a Labour Chancellor p!ssing our money away as there was when Brown first entered the Treasury.
      When there’s no difference between the 3 main parties there is far less fear in voting for a real alternative: UKIP.

  • voiceforlogic

    Re Extract from article:-

    “….. something that says to them ‘actually we like the idea of a second term
    majority Conservative Government, we believe and have confidence that it would do the kind of things we want it to do’ and it’s quite important we send messages to that effect.”

    So the conservative elite want Cameron to do what THEY want – nothing new in that but we want him to do what the country NEEDS. A new election would be a good start.

    We have all seen :-

    West Coast Main Line franchise process a ‘fiasco’ says Branson

    This fiasco is just the same as all the PFI contracts, the reshuffle of the NHS etc.,
    So why is it being treated differently ?

    Is it that one needs Branson like deep pockets to take similar legal action before the government are prepared to admit they have got it wrong ?

    Who is going to put their hand up and say –
    Yes, that is the only way the government will listen ?

    There are too many incompetent civil servants and ministers, who are not fit for purpose.

    When is it going to stop ?


    TWO independent reviews following one legal challenge but NOT ONE following all the NHS professional bodies calling for one into the reshuffle, PFIs etc in the NHS now the CPHS.

    This coalition government has, without exception, followed in the 1930s Conservative and the then CON’ LIB’ COALITION governments, step by step.

    Following a general election in 1931 the Conservatives introduced draconian measures –
    cuts of 10% in public sector wages and benefits – a rise of 2.5% in taxes [echo] – The result – deflation.

    So you know what you will be voting for come the next election if you vote for the conservatives.

  • Sam

    Excellent strategy! Be more like a peripheral party, that’s sure to win you the next election. This is playing straight into Ed Milliband’s hands by vacating the area he wants to be in. As you move further right the votes start thinning out, the area you vacate will shift more votes to Labour than you can possibly gain from the single issue euro-skeptic voters. If the Tories want any chance in the next election they’ve got to move more towards the center where the majority vote is. Cameron is there, his back benches aren’t. Also…Liam Fox looks a right short ar*e next to Cameron, inferiority complex or what.

    • EJ

      You grossly under-estimate the strength of feeling there is out there for a sensible, patriotic, centre-Right party which stands up for Britain and its traditional values with pride and patriotism and stands against uncontrolled immigration, Euro-federalism, Islamisation, rampant criminality etc. This used to be the Conservatives. Now it’s UKIP – who Cameron tries to smear and belittle as swivel-eyed loons. Well I want my country back and if that makes me a vile, small-minded bigot so be it. Farage is our Churchill.

      • trevor21

        Nigel is a slight laugh of a character,and that’s about it. CHURCHILL! Dear God,he’s not fit to stand in the spot where Churchill’s shadow once fell.

        • james102

          I suggest you read ‘Churchill, the end of glory, a political
          biography’ by John Charmley as Churchill’s reputation has been coloured by the
          war time propaganda machine.

          • TomTom

            Obviously. So what. He died in 1965 and is hardly relevantb to today’s problems. He is dead and irrelevant, Cameron is alive and irrelevant. So what do you have to say that is relevant James102 ?

            • james102

              Did you notice I was replying to a specific post(trevor21) and dealt
              with the relevant point?

    • TomTom

      Piffle. Politics is not a solution but a Problem. It is deeply corrupt and the system is without legitimacy. Parliament was created to control the Executive by controlling its Spending. Not only has it failed to control Spending over decades, but it is now sidelined as the Executive simply prints Money to fund itself by debasing the currency.Politics is irrelevant – there is no control through voting.

      • Cogito Ergosum

        In practice, the alternative to politics is the men with guns. Most peoples that have tried it conclude that the politicians are less worse. That included England under Cromwell.

  • james102

    With the increasing awareness among the electorate of the
    consequences of having a political class with similar views, regardless of
    political party, turnout will be very low. This could help the Conservatives if
    they are able to keep their core vote but that is unlikely at the moment.

    The Conservative leadership is now associated with the cult
    of cultural Marxist political correctness as its idea of detoxification was to
    align itself with the dominant cultural values of the fashionable media.

    The only good thing about this is that if the Conservatives
    fail to win a majority there will be a coup and an amalgamation with Ukip.

    There is also the Euro factor. Who knows what the economic
    situation will be in the EU when the next election is called?

    • TomTom

      I think we are moving Beyond Elections. The situation will deterorate quite markedly before 2015 as the facade cracks and the ugly truth becomes self-evident even to the doped and drugged

    • trevor21

      Oh so there will be a coup will they? That’s calling for the overthrow of the democratic system,in other words=treason.

      • Coffeehousewall

        Our present system is not democratic. It does not represent us in any way. Therefore it cannot be treason to overthrow it.

      • TomTom

        Economic Collapse might pressage a coup but in actual fact Politics is a slave to Economics and Global Financial Markets. It is simply the petticoat on the economic system

  • Russell

    Even the promise of an EU referendum will not save Cameron & the Tories.
    I have voted Conservative in every General Election since I was old enough to vote (I am now 63 years old), and will vote UKIP at the next General Election.
    I don’t believe Cameron will give me an in/out EU referendum, only a vote on whether or not to approve staying in under current arrangements or under some ‘new’ slightly changed arrangements which he will negotiate.
    The Tories are going to lose millions of votes to UKIP at the next election because of Camerons and senior Tories love of the EU.
    In addition where is our British Bill of Rights and the scrapping of the ECHR rubbish. A British Bill of rights must overrule the ECHR allowing us to expel any forigner deemed to be not of good character to the UK as it used to be, and allow us to decide which people we do not want to come to this country.

    I don’t even care any more, even if labour win as a result of me changing my vote to UKIP.
    The EU shambles has gone on long enough and is hindering the recovery of the UK financial situation.

    • EJ

      Hear hear! I’m with you 100%!

      • telemachus

        Yes yall see what I mean in my reply to Ken Ward
        PS I thought we’d seen you off

        • ToryOAP


        • ArchiePonsonby

          It will take more than a leftie trolling ponce like you to see me off, chum!

          • telemachus

            I was replying to EJ

      • ArchiePonsonby

        Count me in!

        • David Barnett

          Count me out.

          • ArchiePonsonby

            It’s a free country………… far!

    • DavidDP

      “allowing us to expel any forigner deemed to be not of good character to the UK ”
      Personally, I don’t wish the state to have that power without checks and balances. That’s utterly terrifying, the thought of allowing the state to decide willy nilly who is persona non grata. Individuals have rights vis a vis the state, and should be protected from the overmighty state.

      • james102

        This is about the concept of nationality and whether that
        concept relies on natives having more rights than foreigners. You can use
        another term for ‘natives’ such as ‘citizens ‘if it confuses the issue for you
        but the concept is dependent on distinguishing between categories of resident.

    • David Barnett

      There there, I’m with you 0%.

  • TomTom

    Cameron hasn’t got a core vote because he hasn’t got a core. It is simply too late. He has been leader for 7 years. There is not much that can be done now.

  • EJ

    Cameron is finished. We’re voting UKIP now specifically because of this fraudster’s efforts to pull the party to the left.

    Forget the Tory Party conference. Will any of them address any of the issues that matter? Will anyone stand up against uncontrolled immigration, multiculturalism or Islamisation? Will anyone say anything meaningful about reinvigorating our pathetic justice system or reversing the long march of The Left through all our failing institutions? Will any of them give us a pledge for an IN / OUT referendum on the anti-democratic EU (one these liars actually intend to stick to?) NO!

    Instead we’ll get PR and spin, some nonsense about gay marriage and an increasingly pathetic looking Cameron trying to look sincere (“Let me be perfectly clear on this…”) They are liars and fraudsters who are selling this country down the river and we will not let them get away with it.

    • james102

      No our political class, regardless of party label, won’t do
      anything about the issues you refer to.

      • EJ

        UKIP would and I will be voting for them from now on and not The Conservatives. And there are many more like me. We want our country back.

    • telemachus

      ‘uncontrolled immigration, multiculturalism or Islamisation’
      These racialist jibes have no place on a responsible political blog

      • TomTom

        Yes they have and they are not “racialist”. You should not stifle Free Debate in a Free Society simply because you are a Stalinist

        • telemachus

          We cannot do anything about privately held reprehensible views
          However so often here we see incitement

          • TomTom

            You incite Telemachus but we show admirable restraint

          • IRISHBOY

            The incitement comes from the same charmers who blew people to pieces on the underground. The IRA got away with playing the victim all the while they were blowing people to pieces, but happily people have wised up to this disgusting tactic.

      • ToryOAP


  • DavidDP

    “chase core vote”
    Oh good. Perhaps he can do as well as William Hague did when he did the same thing and got about 30% of the vote. That’ll be a marvellous success.

    • james102

      Better than getting 25%

  • Bruce, UK

    So just to clear this up; to be other than pro-EU is to be right wing?


    • james102

      Yes because if you use economic policies the BNP are to the
      left of Labour. Left and Right are now descriptions of whether a party is
      nationalist or not. Although pet parties such as the SNP have an exemption by
      the media as long as their nationalism does not extend to wanting independence from
      the EU.

  • Ken Ward

    dead party walking.

    • telemachus

      It mattereth not what is said
      Perception is that the Clegg tail wags the Cameron poodle
      The Revanchist Right have mentally migrated to UKIP and will not return.
      The parties of reasonableness just need to sit back and watch the right tear themselves assunder

      • ToryOAP


        • telemachus

          Thankyou for your well argued rejoinder
          You just cannot stomach that the right are terminally fractured

          • cheers

            poncy lots you are. do you ever read your own comments?

  • james102

    Whether moving towards Ukip’s position will result in a
    Conservative majority is open to debate what is certain is that unless they do
    they will be heavily defeated.

    Mitchell has no credibility and he should be replaced as
    soon as it is possible without looking as if Cameron has both panicked and made
    a bad decision in appointing him in the first place.

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