Coffee House

How David Cameron is improving his relations with Tory backbenchers

24 April 2013

There has been a rare outbreak of unity in the Tory party in recent weeks. It is the product of several factors – the bonding effect of honouring Margaret Thatcher, the influence of Lynton Crosby and a growing sense on the Tory benches that Labour are beatable.

Another important element of it is that David Cameron has found a better way to interact with his own MPs. As one senior Number 10 figure told me, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day. But for the first time, I think, we have a proper systematic way of engaging with the party.’


One element of this is more serious policy discussions with MPs. Indeed, I understand that Number 10 is now trying to systematically involve MPs in policy making. But Cameron is also simply showing MPs more respect than he has, perhaps, done in the past. I was struck by how at the launch of Charles Moore’s Thatcher biography and the 1922 anniversary party, both held last night, he didn’t – as he used to — arrive with a conspicuous entourage, glad-hand a few bigwigs and then leave. Instead, he made a visible effort to listen and talk to other guests.

Now, some will say that this and writing notes congratulating Tory MPs on their Commons speeches are all leadership basics that Cameron should have been doing from the start. There’s much truth to this. But if Cameron is determined to devote a proper amount of effort to keeping his own side on board and his MPs are prepared to reciprocate, then things are looking up for the Tories.

You can read James Forsyth’s full politics column on unity in the Tory party in the Spectator, available in print and online from tomorrow. Click here to subscribe.

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  • Barbara Stevens

    Cameron needs to do much more than talk to his backbenchers, he needs to appeal the country, and his policies are lacking at the moment. Its the need for stopping immigrants coming here in Jan, the need to stop them having benefits and houses, and jobs. These jobs should go to British workers not foreign ones. Businesses should employ their own countrymen and women before foreigners, Cameron should encouarge them to do so with tax cuts for 12 months. In fact his immigrant policy should be more draconian, he should fight that like he’s fighting benefits system.

    We have food banks here which have trebled and now they can’t feed them all. He should stop foreign aid entirely, its a disgrace they are having our money while our own are starving. Nearly 400,000 people are now using food banks, what does that tell us all.

    If foreigners come the food banks will face more people and these people are usually the first in the queue for anything that’s free. I’d stop the lot and shut the door until we can cope with our own first and the countries ills. Its a pity more of our MPs don’t feel the same way.

    • Tom Tom

      We should have DfID make Aid Appeals for Britain on US and European TV so we can get some help for our people

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Now you’re talking!

  • Smithersjones2013

    Hmmm lets see how long this new feeling of unity lasts after MP’s have got feedback as to the state of their constituencies after the May elections

    • Barbara Stevens

      You make an important point. They are quietly complacent, but may have a shock. The May elections may be a turning point for public opinion, vote UKIP and frighten them to surrenderring to public opinion.

  • Machina22

    Only took 7 1/2 years. Impressive display of efficiency from the Cameroons.

  • HookesLaw

    Funnily enough when Thatcher refused to listen to her wets she is said to be showing ‘leadership’.

    Its likely that Cameron has realised how tragically dim most tory backbenchers are. So its probably wise to hold their hands. There is an election in 2 years and the govt have got most of its policies out of the way so its inevitable that we will see more overt politicking from the Tories. The lib dems never stopped.

    If only tory backbenchers were sly like Labour’s.

    • Daniel Maris

      “the govt have got most of its policies out of the way” – yes by u turning on them, the most recent egregious example being Porky Pickles’ u-turn on a right to extend for house owners. It was typical of this government: a bone-headed policy that would create more problems than it would solve that numerous people pointed out was fatally flawed but which was taken forward despite the evident flaws…then when the flaws can no longer be ignored, they do a u turn. But that sort of thing saps the moral and martial courage of a government, wears it down.

      The only reason Cameron hasn’t packed his bags yet is because Miliband is not much of a leader. But there’s no way even he can lose. The economic situation is so dire, the government won’t have an answer to the graphs that will show a rasonable recovery under Darling followed by disastrous five years of flatlining under Osborne. Actually it’s worse than flatlining if you look at it on a per capita GDP basis.

      • HookesLaw

        Health welfare pensions education. 300,000 fewer public sector jobs. 20 billion savings programme in the NHS.
        More people in employment and fewer unemployed – even after the 300,000 public sector losses.
        All Darling had to show was a pre election boom, a stimulus that added billions to the national debt, leaving behind a broken economy.

        • Tom Tom

          Most of the jobs are double-counting part-time jobs. Noone gives FTE figures. Unemployment is hard to measure because it is Claimant Count and that is rubbish. it should be based on Inactivity Index. A £20 billion savings program in the NHS by 2015 is easily funded if you abolish the Capital charge of 6% levied on NHS Assets and payable to the Treasury………introduced in 1992

          How much does the treasury extract from the NHS via the 6% Capital charge ?

      • Tom Tom

        Something for you Daniel……..

    • Tom Tom

      Cameron may well be a Backbencher soon

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, these may very well be Dave death throes we’re looking at right now. Such as the Speccie lickspittle are desperately trying to hold him up, but it may be mission impossible.

        What Dave really needs to do is to take the LD’s hostage, and force them to vote for whatever conservatives want, rather than what the LD’s and Dave himself want. That would keep the coalition together for the rest of these last 24 months, at least.

        And what are the LD’s going to do? Revolt? They’d likely be out of government immediately, if they did.

    • Smithersjones2013

      If only the Tory leadership were competent would probably be a more important change.

  • WatTylersGhost

    Nice picture of Cameron leaving Number 10. If only……

    • tele_machus

      He is just about to declare his resignation as patron of the Oxford Bee Keepers association

  • Russell

    Cameron doesn’t need to think about Rome, he needs to think about Brussels, and more importantly the UK leaving the EU. If Cameron was to do another u-turn, this time on his previous support of our continued membership and start campaigning for the UK to leave, he might find a lot more support from his backbenchers and a majority of the UK electorate.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    It’s shameful that this publication gives platform for a Cameroonian lickspittle to puff piece his hero.

    It might be nice if you all provided interesting and relevant writings, rather than this piffle.

    • HookesLaw

      Thick ignorant bigoted garbage, as usual.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Well then your comments will fit right in.

        • HookesLaw

          You are the hysteric ranting and wailing. With no justification and do so at the drop of a hat.
          Cameron is a mainstream Conservative; there are a few conservatives to the left of him and a few to the right.

          Tough – you take your bigotry somewhere else.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yep, your comments fit right in, tosspot.

          • Tom Tom

            Cameron is a Conservative and that is the death-knell of the Conservative Party

            • JamesdelaMare

              One day even the Tories will wake up to the idiocy of the last 2-3 weeks of sycophantic hype about Thatcher’s death and realise that it was an ill-conceived, rock-bottom attempt to boost Cameron in the polls when all else has failed. Even the evident emotion of Osborne won’t put the economy right.

          • Smithersjones2013

            I imagine that when Theresa May was making that speech back in 2002 (you know THAT speech) she was thinking particularly of people like you.

      • Tom Tom

        You are showing unusual introspection

  • CraigStrachan

    “Instead, he made a visible effort to listen and talk to other guests”

    It’ll be progress when the effort isn’t so visible.

    • Tom Tom

      Nicely stated !

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