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Reasons why the next parliamentary Conservative Party won't be subservient

NearlyAll The new conventional wisdom out there is that the next generation of Tory MPs is going to be dull, careerist and Cameroonian.  John Kampfner in today's Daily Mail writes an article headlined "Hunky Dunky is an odious fool - but lobotomised, cloned MPs could be even worse."  He goes on to write that the new intake of MPs "have never entered the real world" and "are well tuned to the subservience needed to climb the ladder."  "Most worryingly," Kampfner concludes, "David Cameron (who once proclaimed himself the 'heir to Blair') seems, like Blair, comfortable only in the presence of such clones."  The pundits hate the idea of a grey political political class but then rant at any elected member who dares to be different.

Kampfner and the many commentators who have joined the herd are going to be surprised.  Jonathan Isaby and I have spent more time studying the views of 'the Class of 2010' and offer three main observations about them:

  1. The majority of the next generation of Conservative MPs are not CCHQ's first choice.  David Cameron's first choice of candidates appeared on his 'A List 100'.  Only a quarter of the candidates in the top 225 target seats are members of the 'A List 100'.  44 were adopted under the leaderships of Hague, IDS and Michael Howard.  They are fighting their seats for the second and third time and have a certain independence because of that.  A large number were selected as local candidates against the wishes of CCHQ who regularly rang Association Chairman, encouraging them to choose female A-listers.  Of the women A-listers that were adopted (I think of Philippa Stroud, Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, Louise Bagshawe, Karen Bradley and so on) they tended to be more independently-minded. 
  2. They are Thatcherites at home in today's Britain.  They are Thatcherite in that they want lower taxes, support foxhunting, are deeply Eurosceptic and believe in school choice.  They are at home in modern Britain in that they are supportive of gay rights, are civil libertarian and use the NHS.  See polling.
  3. They cannot afford to be seen as too subservient to the whips.  If Cameron goes ahead with his commitment to cut the number of MPs by 10% then nearly every MP will have to be readopted (by their Associations or in open primary contests).  MPs (and more won't be ministers given Cameron's planned cull of frontbench posts) will keep close to local voters or risk a 'save the local hospital/ regiment/ bypass/ library/ wetland' candidate. 

Any reader wanting to know more should scroll down The next generation of Conservative MPs category on the Seats and candidates blog.

The other reason why the next Parliament won't be slavishly loyal to Cameron is that existing MPs don't think he has been loyal to them during the expenses crisis.  ConHome was first with an analysis of 'the upset' between MPs and David Cameron's office because many felt he hadn't stuck up for them against a frenzied public.  That feeling was one reason why Cameron dare not sack Alan Duncan for his 'we-are-treated-like-s**t' remarks.

I don't predict big tensions.  In the early months of government the 2010 intake will be too busy to do anything but behave.  But commentators and the Tory whips office are making a big mistake if they think them "lobotomised."

Tim Montgomerie


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