Lynton Crosby spoke to Tory MPs this evening about the imporance of party discipline. With the Chief Whip in the chair, meetings of the Tory parliamentary party are normally fairly loyalist events. Tonight’s was no exception and with David Cameron and Lynton Crosby in attendance there was an even greater incentive to good behaviour.
I’m told that James Morris, who sits for a West Midlands marginal, earned cheers when he implored colleagues to remember that when they sound off, they hurt those like him who are trying to cling on to their majorities. Kris Hopkins, the no nonsense leader of the 301 Group, complained about ‘self indulgent buffoons’ who keep popping up to tout themselves as alternative leaders. In response to that question, Cameron handed over to Crosby who stressed that one of the things he’d learnt in his time in politics was that people don’t vote for divided parties.
Sarah Wollaston, the independent minded Tory who was selected in his open primary, did, though, challenge the leadership about its attidue to backbenches. She complained that she’s read about the new Twitter edict on Mail Online before it had actually been delivered to Tory MPs. She asked if the rule about being a participant not a pundit cut both ways or not.
In terms of substance, I’m told that Crosby reassured Tory MPs that the party would be getting back on the aspiration message. But as one senior MP complained to me after the meeting, ‘the conference speech was good. But we’ve heard nothing about it since.’