Tara Hamilton-Miller: Will 'old' Tories go off message?

What should we make of this new breed of Conservatives, with their slightly hybrid add-on of Liberal Democrats, like the bizarre Vacanti mouse experiment with an ear on the side?

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

The more David Cameron keeps saying he is a Liberal, the more Tory hearts sink. He is offering little reassurance to those who were so bowled over by him in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, 2005. Many traditional Tories feel conned: if the young Cameron had announced on stage five years ago his detoxifying of the party would involve such things as the 'A-List' or 'hugging hoodies', they may not have been so keen. Rhetorically, he is not doing enough to encourage his own side.

Cameron is fortunate that out of 300 Tory MPs, half are new. There will not be many willing to put their head above the parapet. They didn't fight against the Liberals and Labour to prop up a Liberal government. MPs Andrew Rosindell and Ian Liddell-Grainger are already making a bit of noise. If there are three or four going public, you can bet there are at least 34.

The people that count are the longer established MPs: their comments make headlines by themselves. There is the Tory party and then there is Cameron's operation - the rubber band is quite stretched. In the current climate, week two, Cameron is doing okay.

There is a new trend among Tories of the old right: the Maverick. Ever since David Davis took his stand on human rights, he has become a poster boy for that group. Many admired his stance. Expect a few more to go down the same 'courage of my convictions' route during the next Parliament. My money is on backbencher Graham Brady to go all Andy McNab on us - he did during the grammar schools arguments in 2006 and gained respect for taking a stand on what he believed in.

Many Tories who tirelessly worked in shadow ministerial jobs naturally thought they had a shoo-in for the job in Government. Spending five years learning everything there is to know about GPs, agriculture, food labelling and building relationships only to see a jumped-up, probably ginger, Lib Dem just out of shorts taking the top job must be galling.

- Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team.

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