Chris Heaton-Harris and the Tories’ discipline problem

One of the increasingly notable (and in many ways remarkable) things about the coalition is the stark difference in the levels of party unity and discipline in the two parties. While Liberal Democrat MPs and members have committed – often selflessly – to the implementation of the coalition agreement, the same cannot be said of the increasingly fractious Conservative party. Old wounds over Europe have clearly not healed, and the salt of equal marriage and the prime minister’s commitment that this should be the greenest government ever are making many on the Conservative fringes increasingly uncomfortable.

The story of Chris Heaton-Harris is only the latest (though most bizarre) in a series of examples of this discomfort, and the loss of prime ministerial authority which it has accompanied, as Jonathan Calder notes:

The Conservative leadership has already announced that Chris Heaton-Harris will not face disciplinary action after apparently encouraging of James Delingpole to stand as an anti-wind-farm candidate in the Corby by-election.

Which is odd, particularly when you learn that Heaton-Harris is the agent for the Tory candidate Christine Emmett.

This failure to act looks like a reflection of David Cameron’s weakness as Conservative leader. He is now openly despised by the party’s right wing and dare not move against one of their favourite sons. The Guardian, incidentally, is also suggesting that the energy minister John Hayes may have had knowledge of the plan. Certainly, wind farms stands second only to Europe in the list of the Tory right’s obsessions.

The big question that remains unanswered, of course, is the effect of this loss of authority on the future of the coalition. It clearly played a big part in the government’s inability to reform the House of Lords, though the fallout from that looks to have been fairly neatly contained (for now). And it was evident once again over the issue of Europe – the most toxic of all for the Tories. But the ultimate consequence of the Tory party’s increasing ungovernability while acting as the largest party in a coalition government remains to be seen.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

One Comment

  • Elizabeth Grant 16th Nov '12 - 8:31am

    It is not surprising that the Tory Right has sought to strengthen its grip and frankly I don’t see why they shouldn’t leave and sign up to their ‘natural’ home in UKIP (ironic). Cameron needs to mobilise the moderates although it is useful for him to site need to unify the party on issues. Quite agree that Lords Reform has been a casualty of this. Going forward it does not aid Coalition politics and I see increasing instability ahead.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDan Falchikov 28th Apr - 4:26pm
    No Patrick Harvey? He is after all the leader of the fourth biggest party in the Scottish Parliament.
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 28th Apr - 4:17pm
    David Becket - is it not possible for us to natter about celebs/chew gum and deliver FOCUS at the same time? Perhaps we need an...
  • User AvatarTonyJ 28th Apr - 4:16pm
    Well said Callum. This is so important. Our party doesn't have the 'baked-in' resources of the Tories (big business) and Labour (Trade Unions). The electoral...
  • User AvatarTony Rowan-Wicks 28th Apr - 3:57pm
    Just a few other matters: few Liberal Democrat candidates have the media following or reporting their local or our national campaigns to any extent; the...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 28th Apr - 3:41pm
    @Richard You're right. In a way it is good that interest rates have fallen. And yes businesses do run on credit. So no-one is arguing...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 28th Apr - 3:26pm
    @ Sam “I would say address the reason for high house price inflation rather than combat the symptom which is for many many years we...