Conservative Diary

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I fear the party has no option but to suspend the Tory whip from Lord Tebbit

Tebbit2 Tim has already outlined the need for David Cameron to take tough action against those Tory MPs named in today's Telegraph who are deemed to have made the most excessive and outrageous claims on expenses taxpayers' money to keep them in the way to which they have become accustomed.

And judging by the brief "doorstep" interview David Cameron gave on leaving home this morning, I sense that he is resolved to take action today against some of those identified by the Telegraph, and rightly so.

However, I'm afraid Lord Tebbit's intervention this morning will also necessitate action.

It has long been suggested that some kind of distancing of the party from him was something that certain Cameroon strategists desired as a way of showing that the party changed and moved on from the Thatcher era.

Lord Tebbit has regularly made comments about the direction in which David Cameron has taken the party in the past, almost to goad the party into disciplining him. I suspect he would have quite enjoyed the "martyr status" that would have afforded him and such disciplinary action was never forthcoming.

However, I fear he has now overstepped the mark.

Let me be clear, Lord Tebbit has a great history of service to the party and to the country and, as such, I am a huge admirer of his. I should also make it abundantly clear that there is absolutely no suggestion that Lord Tebbit has ever committed any kind of financial impropriety of the kind which has caused the current crisis.

However, now is a time for collective discipline on the part of all Conservative politicians and to recommend voting anything other thn Conservative at an election is simply unacceptable. Public backing for the party goes hand in hand with the privilege of taking the Conservative whip, be in in the Commons, the Lords, the European Parliament or the council chamber.

As such, the dictum that all party members should be treated the same - as was the case for Stuart Wheeler - has to kick in and I'm afraid suspending the whip from Lord Tebbit is the only logical course of action.

Jonathan Isaby


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