There’s a quite extraordinary broadside against David Cameron’s leadership in today’s Mail – written it appears by a current Conservative MP who chooses to remain anonymous — accusing him of “cynically manipulating” the party’s candidates’ list to stuff its green benches with “friends who went to the same school or moved in the same social circle”.
Here’s a flavour:
Speeches Cameron made before the Election about a new politics gave us great hope. But before too long, the less appealing side to his character became clear as he displayed an immature tendency to poke fun at certain individuals or groups of MPs. It may have gone down well at Eton in the Eighties, but not in the Commons. Not in 2011.
When the expenses furore exploded in 2009, Cameron launched a hypocritical and appalling attack on veteran Conservative MP Bill Cash, who has dedicated his life’s work to taking on the European Union. He said Cash had ‘questions to answer’. He didn’t. He was clean as a whistle and threatened Cameron with legal action to prove it.
Cameron, the millionaire who used Commons expenses for his mortgage and to tend his garden, backed off, but it didn’t stop him throwing other innocent Tory MPs to the wolves. Curiously, MPs with close personal links to Cameron seemed to escape the criticism aimed at Cash.
For a non-Tory, it makes for a fun read. However, I’m more than a little turned-off by the idea of an MP choosing to make such personal attacks concealed beneathed the cloak of anonymity: that’s just cowardice. And it’s especially jarring in the week when the House of Commons saw an act of genuine bravery, when Tory MP Mark Pritchard spoke out against the typical behind-the-scenes arm-twisting deployed by the Whips office to dragoon errant Parliamentarians into line:
“I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background but that background gives me a backbone, it gives me a thick skin and I am not going to be kowtowed by the whips or even the prime minister of my country on an issue that I feel passionately about, that I have conviction about.”
It’s worth reading Anonymous’s anti-Cameron slating alongside today’s article by Tim Montgomerie in the Telegraph, lauding the Tories’ Class of 2010, as “Thatcher’s children”, and highlighting their impatient pragmatism. It seems (from this outsider’s perspective) that this battle in the Tory party is as much driven by Anonymous’s gerontocratic distaste for the thrusting, parvenu ambitions of an increasingly professionalised caste of MPs as it is by any ideological division.