OPINION: Tories need to flush out party rebels

This week's Conservative Party conference in Blackpool offers a fine example of how to shrink an already slim support base through bad PR. This is not intended as a criticism of Tory PROs, who generally bear favourable professional comparison with their New Labour counterparts.

But PR cannot simply be left to those whose specific responsibility it is. Genuine reputational turnaround requires collective buy-in from all with an interest in the outcome. It is hard to see how Tory election prospects can be taken seriously if those vying to undermine the party leader are able to plot openly without fear of redress.

As for what the beleaguered Iain Duncan Smith can do to boost his chances of survival, he might wish to try the gamble his predecessor-but-one John Major pulled off - resign the leadership and stand again on a 'put up or shut up' ticket.

In the light of events since, it may not seem a very helpful comparison, but if he is to put to rest those who have unsettled his leadership since its first day, he needs first to flush them out into the open.

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