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Cameron tells 2010 intake of Tory MPs that it's "absolutely wrong" to believe that NHS changes are about appeasing Lib Dems

By Tim Montgomerie
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Earlier today David Cameron spent about an hour at a meeting of the new intake of Tory MPs. It was a controversial meeting for the reasons explained by Paul Goodman last night. Why was the PM briefing some Conservative MPs but not all of them? Why was the Chief Whip bypassing the 1922 Committee and holding a meeting which the government chaired and controlled? ConHome sources who attended the meeting said they weren't in a better position after the meeting to answer those questions.

The Chief Whip had gathered the new MPs together for three meetings last year but there had been nothing in 2011 until an email invitation was issued to the 'Class of 2010' on Saturday evening. The expectation was that the PM had something significant to say. In the event, he didn't say anything particularly remarkable.

What did the PM say?
  •  On the NHS reforms he said it was "absolutely wrong" to say that the health reforms were being changed to appease the Lib Dems. Because the original plan wasn't carrying the NHS profession the bill would have had to be amended anyway, he insisted, even if we had a majority Conservative government. [Earlier today ConHome revealed how a Lib Dem MP had said you "can't trust the Tories with the NHS"].
  • Nadhim Zahawi asked the PM to justify Lords reform. The MP for Stratford-upon-Avon's remark that there was no public demand for it was greeted with a banging of desks. The PM said it was not a radical reform. Only 100 peers would be elected by the time of the next election. It was an evolutionary change, he said, that Tories should support.
  • Another popular question was asked by Jason McCartney. He said that the public was very opposed to both the aid budget and €uro bailouts. He made a distinction, however, between the aid budget where some members of the public were open to persuasion and the bailouts where public opposition was implacable.

The Q&A part of the meeting (which Gary Gibbon reports included 24 questions in total) was chaired by Edward Timpson MP. Timpson recently joined the Downing Street political unit and his role at this meeting was confirmation of his status as the man with special responsibility for connecting Number 10 with the 2010 intake.


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