« What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group | Main | Ken Baker and Richard Ryder call for Cameron to appoint an MP as Tory Chairman »

Record of how Conservative MPs are reacting to the local election results

A variety of reactions are pasted in this blog. The names of those calling for some change of message, priority or operational changes are emboldened. We have also included the contributions of MPs who have not advocated substantial changes.

5.45pm A little round-up of what Tory MPs have said during the day:

David Ruffley MP advocated radical economic measures - and a withdrawal from the Coalition if Lib Dems won't back them:

"I think now with the position now where there was a Coalition Agreement two years ago but quite a few senior colleagues think that was then, this is now. We didn't think two years ago that the economy would still be flat on its back and everything now has to be directed towards getting the British economy going. And yes it does mean looking at tax again but also, a freer labour market, the hiring and firing proposals to make sure that young people aren't turned away from jobs because of the very onerous social employment protection legislation in this country, so we should say to the Liberals on things like that which they are blocking, 'Listen we are in a real hole now. We need some radical economic polices put in place and you go with it and if you don't, we how would you like a general election?'"

Peter Bone MP urged the Government to drop any "wishy-washy" policies in the Queen's Speech:

"You can see what happens when there is a Conservative Government, because there was a Conservative Government run in London by Boris and he got re-elected. He put forward Conservative policies and he got re-elected and he bucked the national trend, and that really should be a message for the Coalition. Be more conservative and be less liberal wishy-washy and I think that’s what the voters would like to see in the Queen’s speech.” 

John Baron MP wanted a focus on small business growth:

"We do need a more growth-orientated strategy cuts to small business corporation tax is a very good example. That would help a lot of small businesses. They are the key employers when it comes to the private sector. But also, taking on the EU to a certain extent. There is too much bureaucracy, too much mindless interference. The EU is suggesting a 7% increase in its Budget next year when all governments are cutting back."

John Redwood MP said the election results were not unexpected, but said economic growth must be the main priority:

"It's quite normal, mid-term, for the parties to suffer a bit of a reversal, but I think the big issue, why no-one should be complacent, is how is this economy going to be turned around and can it be done quickly enough as people are understandably impatient."

Claire Perry MP, explained that some voices in the Coalition should "stop whinging and let's start working":

"We’ve always said that the Budget moves have to be balanced and fair and we’re all really proud of taking Britain’s poorest workers out of tax altogether and we have to always have a balancing act on this and I think, frankly, most of the party understands that and should be very proud of what we’ve achieved amongst a tough economic backdrop. I say perhaps it’s time like in any good company - which is where I used to work - that we pull together and we focus on what we’re doing which is sorting out this country’s problems for the benefits of our kids. That’s why I came into politics, that’s why most of us are here, let's stop whinging and lets start working."

Tuesday update, 6.30am:

Nick Boles told the Daily Telegraph:

"I think certainly it is an acceptance that things are slower to come through in terms of results than we would like. The Government has got a lot of policies to make the economy grow again, policies to help businesses get credit, policies to build houses, policies to help young people get work experience. They are all there, but we actually need to make sure they start to deliver."

Monday updates, 7.30am:

According to the Independent:

"Veteran Tory Brian Binley said the verdict at the ballot box was a "major setback" for the party and urged Prime Minister David Cameron to "wake up and smell the coffee".

Backbencher Bob Stewart urged Conservative high command to "listen" to the unrest in the nation and called for some "sanity" in next week's Queen's speech."

Sunday updates, 6.30pm:

Brazier Julian DSCSpeaking on BBCTV Julian Brazier has urged the Coalition to drop "pretty ridiculous fringe policies" like gay marriage and Lords reform and switch to three or so more popular issues, notably control of immigration.

Brian Binley urged Cameron to rethink policies that are too LibDem-friendly while Jackie Doyle-Price said that some of UKIP's messages were more appealing to Tory voters than Cameron's policies. Watch here.

Brandon Lewis meanwhile blamed the strength of UKIP for the Tories losing Great Yarmouth. He wrote: "Both locally and nationally, we failed to tell our own story and develop our message, voters seem unsure about where we are heading. They want to see that the Conservatives are on the side of ordinary families and pensioners, which means we have to talk about the issues that concern them."

At lunchtime David Davis previewed tomorrow's Alternative Queen's Speech by urging Cameron to force Nick Clegg to remember that 5/6ths of Coalition MPs are Tories. See bottom of this blog.

Saturday 7.30pm update

Barwell GavinGavin Barwell has blogged:

"[I]mpressive as Boris's victory was, we should not let it obscure the clear signal that the electorate were sending the Conservative Party last night. This was not a mid-term thumping of the sort that Gordon Brown and John Major's Governments received but it was a message that the Government's performance over the last couple of months hasn't been good enough, that we need to get back to delivering the change people voted for - sorting out the financial mess, ending the something for nothing culture, mending our broken society and fixing our broken politics."

3pm Some more tweets on the elections from MPs.

Louise Mensch says:

"As Conservatives we have to learn lessons the public are saying and not bluster our way through."

Zac Goldsmith tweeted:

"Tories looking for 'lessons' for Party from Boris win. Simple; in addition to liking him, people broadly believe he means what he says."

Rob Wilson added:

"Story of the local elections is simple. Significant number of Tories stayed at home in protest at national issues."

Robert Halfon had some advice for CCHQ:

"Great political campaigner Lynton Crosby done it again for Boris. Need him now at Conservative HQ"

Nick Boles told BBC News:

"But also I think it's important to remember the very very difficult things that the Government is being asked to do, and across Europe most governments that have been going through the same process of trying to get debts under control and tough budget deficits, most of those governments have fallen. So it's not surprising, though very disappointing, that we've had a bit of a knock back in these mid-term elections a couple of days ago."

REDWOOD JOHNJohn Redwood blogged earlier this morning, urging the Coalition to focus on improving living standards:

"The Conservatives in Coalition need to wrestle with the main problem that was present on many doorsteps. People feel their living standards have been squeezed too much over the last four years. They want the government to reverse this, to tax them less and take some of the inflationary pressures off their budgets. Labour’s better results in 2012 as they admit do not guarantee them an election victory in 2015. Their gains were no more than other parties made in Opposition prior to losing the next General Election. Nor should the Coalition think that this is automatically just a mid term dip. Economic recovery is what the public rightly want. The next couple of years will determine whether we have a sufficient one. That will have an important impact on how people vote in 2015."

Saturday, 12.45pm update:

Nick de Bois, writing on Iain Dale's blog, urges Cameron to drop distractions like Lords reform and focus on delivering "Conservative wins" on human rights and immigration:

"Nobody on the doorstep is focusing on the red benches; they’re focusing on the red numbers on their monthly statements. Doing things in the right way is similarly easy. Government communication needs to emphasise that Cameron and his Ministers are on the right side of the public.  There are a series of easy Conservative wins that could have been had if they were managed correctly. On highly visible and charged issues like the Human Rights Act, border controls and the deportation of Abu Qatada, the Government missed an open goal through mismanagement."

Saturday morning, 5th May update:

Yeo-TimTim Yeo has added his name to the list of Conservative MPs concerned about the direction of the Coalition. He is quoted in The Telegraph:

“Voters are getting impatient and we need to talk about issues that matter to them. Top of the list that doesn’t matter is House of Lords reform. I would like the Prime Minister to be able to say to Nick Clegg: I’m very sorry, mate, but we’ll put this one a bit further down the agenda for now. For Lords reform to be top of the list in the Queen’s Speech next week, most voters will think he has gone bonkers.”

Mark Pritchard added:

“Number 10 need to listen to their Conservative backbenchers and the Conservative Party grass roots more often, and to their minority and junior Coalition partners less often,” he said. “It would be misguided to just put this down to mid-term blues.”

Douglas Carswell on his blog:

"The pity is the Parliamentary party is buzzing with people who do have coherent and original ideas - but who have been kept at arms length."


By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

I have collected below how Tory MPs have reacted to the local election results. Tories speaking on television have said:

4.45pm Peter Bone has called these elections "the beginning of the end of the Coalition". He said:

"We’ve got the Liberals holding us back – a Prime Minister with one hand tied behind his back. I think that’s the lesson – that this is the beginning of the end of the Coalition. ... I think he has to take a lesson from what Boris is doing, have common sense Conservative policies which will win – wishy-washy Liberal Democrat watered-down coalition policies fail."

4.15pm Update: Stewart Jackson told BBC radio:

"David Cameron is on notice that he does need to raise his game. He needs to focus on bread and butter issues like jobs and mortgages and public services and, above all, to develop a clear route map to growth, and stop fixating on the agenda of a liberal clique around him and barmy policies such as Lords reform and gay marriage, which people either don't like or don't care about. There is a growing frustration from many Conservative backbenchers that their views are not being listened to. If you get one Labour or Liberal voter to vote Conservative at the general election but lose three or four others to Ukip, you are not going to win the general election."

Eleanor Laing called for David Cameron to get a Willie Whitelaw figure:

"Let us remember that the Liberal Democrats make up one sixth of the coalition, not one half of the coalition. If we proceed on those terms … David can listen rather more to Conservative MPs, who represent the real people of this country, and give rather less regard to the Liberal Democrat intellectual urban elite, with their student politics idea of reforming the constitution and taking forward green policies. Let's do the things that really matter to the people who are suffering. It won't be done with the confidence of the British people while he is being held back by the Liberal Democrats. Margaret Thatcher said: 'Every prime minister needs a Willie.' She meant Willie Whitelaw, who was her great adviser and the solid person who stood beside her and gave her advice. It is a pity David does not, at the moment, take advice from a person like that."


Streeter GaryGary Streeter, Devon South West:

"We’re taken a bit of a beating here from the Labour Party tonight ... A lot of our supporters have switched over and voted UKIP tonight, they have come within a whisker of taking seats here tonight. Obviously one option is to have a referendum on our membership of the EU … maybe we will put it in our party manifesto, maybe we won’t. ... We've got to be much more small c and big c Conservative on crime, law and order, some of our traditional policies ... That's what our supporters are waiting, indeed gagging to see. The interesting thing for me was that, doing a lot of visits on the doorstep, that people were unhappy, obviously about the last two months of our government, and many of them said we can accept many things from the Conservative party, but we expect them to be competent."

Greening Justine BBCJustine Greening, the Transport Secretary, pointed out that people voting UKIP can let Labour win council seats. Greening said:

"It was always going to be a difficult one, and I think for Labour, I mean they were getting an average vote of about 25% during the last term ... so realistically there was only one way they could go and that was up. We'll see where we end up. I think we all know this is as much a test about Ed Miliband's leadership as anything else ... and I think we were expecting this to be a difficult evening. ... UKIP voters themselves need to think about what the outcome is that they want to achieve with their vote."

HOWARTH-GERALD-AT-PMQsDefence Minister Gerald Howarth told the BBC:

""There are issues, for example, like the proposals for gay marriage," he told the BBC. "A lot of Conservatives have written to me saying 'I am a lifelong Conservative, there is no mandate for this, why is this being proceeded with?'. There is the business of trying to change the House of Lords. Do we need to do this at a time when the nation is preoccupied with restoring the public finances?""

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) said the decision to cut the 50p tax rate rather than fuel duty hit the Tories hard, and urged more working class, Northern voices at the top of the Party (exact quote not online).

JENKIN BERNARD TWITTERBernard Jenkin noted Labour's results are not quite as strong as they might seem at first:

"The Labour Party are making some predictable gains but they’re not making the kind of gains they would need to make to put them into an election winning position. We’re not at some kind of tipping point moment and there’s a very clear message that we should talk about the economy rather than drifting off onto some of the subjects that might be dominating the Queen’s speech."

However, Jenkin specified his concerns about those other subjects that might dominate the Queen's speech:

"The coalition is going to look completely out of touch if we carry on with House of Lords reform. There’s clearly no consensus and to jam up the legislative system with House of Lords reform … I think would be the coalition going out of touch with the public."

Finally, David Cameron told the BBC:

“These are difficult times, and there aren’t easy answers. What we have to do is to take difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and the broken economy that we inherited. We’ll go on making those decisions because we’ve got to do the right thing for our country. We need to appeal to people, and I would note that in these results, while I’m sorry that Conservative councillors who’ve worked hard lost their seats, in places like Amber Valley in Derbyshire, the heart of England, a part that’s actually been Labour for decades, we still have a Conservative council, a place where I launched our local election campaign."

Tories on Twitter have said:

Andrew Bridgen, North West Leicestershire:

"UKIP take 14% in local elections, time to promise that EU Referendum."

Nadine Dorries, Mid Bedfordshire:

"LibDems will now cling even closer to Tories. Where else do they have to go? Electoral wipe out if they break coalition."

JACKSON STEWARTStewart Jackson, Peterborough:

"My @peterboroughet column [today] reiterates the point that it's silly to badmouth UKIP: please note Sayeeda Warsi! Better to engage the issues"

Jesse Norman, Hereford and South Herefordshire:

"I rather admire Tim Farron's apology this morning. But can an insistence on Lords Reform really be the answer? [It's the economy.]"

Alun Cairns, Vale of Glamorgan:

"Need to remember that David Cameron was most popular when he vetoed EU treaty. Lib Dems holding us back"

Ben Gummer, Ipswich:

"This is going to be a very difficult night for the Coalition parties. It should be a spur to re-focussing us on our great task."


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.