The Adam Afriyie leadership stories this Sunday confirmed several things. First, there’ll be no shortage of candidates when David Cameron goes. A large tranche of backbenchers have become increasingly irritated at what they view as a magic circle of ministers, special advisers and journalists who, they claim, are deciding who is and isn’t considered a serious player in Westminster. A result of this will be a determined effort to bust this alleged cartel come the next leadership contest.
The second, and more important, thing is that the whole issue of pay and rations for MPs is still shaping our politics. Many of those most hostile to Cameron are those who feel that he hung them — or their colleagues — out to dry during the expenses scandal. They feel that he didn’t show them loyalty in their hour of need, so they owe him none.
Afriyie has capitalised on this expenses discontent. As Chris Hope points out in The Telegraph, Afriyie — who has claimed no expenses himself — has set himself up as an MPs’ champion on the matter, as someone prepared to fight for the interests of parliamentarians on this matter. His push for flat-rate allowances has been extremely popular with MPs who are fed up with the bureaucratic and, some say, demeaning system operated by IPSA.
I doubt that this, his back story and business success will be enough to carry Afriyie to the leadership: his fellow MPs tend not to regard him as that strong a media or Commons performer. But this chatter, and the reason for it, does tell us something about the mood among a certain section of Tory MPs.