Conservative Diary

« A 1922 Committee Chairman should be elected as soon as possible | Main | Osborne insists that a LibLab pact would not be stable or legitimate »

Tory MPs give Cameron AV plan a muted reception - but there's no revolt

Accounts of the reaction of this evening's Parliamentary Party meeting reaction to one of the most sensational about-turns in the Party's history are starting to trickle out.

One might have expected the newly-elected Conservative MPs to rise up in revolt against Team Cameron's astounding about-turn on the alternative vote.

After all, it's been executed in a last-ditch bid to keep Clegg on board for a deal. And its cost at the polls could be many Tory MPs who come in with less than half the total vote.

However, it appears that those present didn't want to do anything that would make it more difficult for David Cameron to cross the threshold of Number 10 - a possibility that seemed tantalisingly close earlier today.

I understand that, as anticipated here, "big beasts" were called earlier to back the leadership's position, including ex-Cabinet Minister Stephen Dorrell and former Shadow Cabinet Minister Oliver Heald.

John Whittingdale, a key player on the right of the Party, was also broadly supportive.  John Hayes agreed with Stephen Dorrell.  A Times story earlier today referred to Cornerstone backing for the leadership.

It may be significant that Edward Leigh, a former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and important figure on the right of the Party, didn't oppose the move.

He seems to have emphasised that it would be important for Conservative MPs to be able to campaign against AV both in Parliament and during any referendum.

David Cameron apparently made it clear that in his view any AV system would apply to a smaller number of seats.  Both the Conservatives and the Liberals are committed to cutting the size of the Commons.

Such a reduction would in itself boost the Party's chances of winning an election, given that under the present system we have to be roughly 10 per cent ahead to gain a Commons majority.

It shouldn't be presumed that Team Cameron can carry their plan on the basis of this evening's meeting. Commons discontent tends to gather force behind the scenes, rather than come out in the open.

Paul Goodman


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