Plot to remove Cameron gathers pace

1st December, 2011 12:36 pm

Ever since the Conservative Party Conference in September – when the party’s green credentials were unceremoniously dumped by George Osborne – the manoeuvrings of the Tory right, to replace David Cameron, have been heating up.

In today’s Daily Telegraph, under lightly veiled cover of criticism of the Chancellor, columnist Peter Osborne declares:

“It is not properly appreciated, except among Treasury officials and the Downing Street inner circle, that George Osborne is only a part-time Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the one hand, Osborne is in charge of the national finances at a time of the gravest imaginable economic crisis; on the other, he is equally active and energetic as the chief strategist to the Prime Minister.”

We are being told that the country is affectively being run by the Chancellor. Consider the second paragraph of the article:

“Here are the facts. On an average day, Osborne will arrive at the Treasury shortly after 8am. There he will convene a very brief meeting with officials before strolling up Whitehall to join the morning strategy meeting at 10 Downing Street. He does not attend the latter in his capacity as finance minister. Rather, he forcefully expresses his opinions across a very wide range of policy and political issues.”

In his Autumn Statement George Osborne delivered a striking public blow to the credibility of the Prime Minister, who campaigned for an election on the premise “Vote Blue Go Green”. He bemoaned the burden of “endless social and environmental goals” on industry, and described the Habitats Regulations as a “ridiculous cost on British business”, claiming that they amounted to “gold plating” on European legislation.

Meanwhile ConservativeHome’s campaign of public support (with subtle undermining) for Mr Cameron’s position, seems to be moving towards the openly hostile, with the publication of their member survey results. The questions appear to have been designed to demonstrate support for the Chancellor, including a policy question that has long existed as a demonstration of how-out-of tune Mr Cameron is with his party:

It was right that the Chancellor trimmed aid spending by £525 million:
Agree 91%, Disagree 6%

It is not just the failure to win the last election that has antagonised, nor the woolly policies themselves. Much of the internal opposition to Mr Cameron comes from his own handling of his party. The dictatorial powers of the leader of the Tories has traditionally caused leaders to look for consensus within the ranks (for fear of dissent), in a party without the alarm bell of regular democratic tests. Mr Cameron failed to take his party with him on crucial policy issues such as The Big Society, but even worse, he imposed his mates as A-list candidates, and blocked the parliamentary ambitions of many talented people.

Meanwhile, where are the Cameroons these days? It seems from these reports that Mr Cameron is increasingly isolated in Downing Street, and increasingly without friends. His best friend George is making him a puppet, while no one appears to be coming to his aid. ConservativeHome remains loyal to the party, and therefore to the leader, but party loyalty is a bloody knife at the best of times.

But for ConservativeHome to become openly hostile should be a cause of alarm for Mr Cameron. For the Telegraph to join in makes planning for a funeral prudent. We should assume that it is only a matter of time until the matter comes to a head and a leadership challenge results.

From observing these events, it would seem likely that the contest will become a coronation.

Make way for King George.

  • Anonymous

    That’s dreaming for you,  praying a battle for a leadership will come along and you will get in by what default, it’s not going to happen, Cameron will take the party into another election I suspect he will win and then he will make up his own mind when to go.

    • Tom

      Cameron win an election?  Haha. Funny.

    • Dan Mccurry

      I don’t think the Tories will go into the next election with Cameron. Not if they can help it. 

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if the writer of this piece has ever complained about Tories speculating about possible leadership coups in the Labour Party, that ‘one more bad PMQs and Ed Milliband is toast”. Tories don’t know what is going on in Labour, and Labour don’t know what is going on in the Tories. Wish forfilment and vapid speculation normally occurs when you are feeling desperate. Should I be reading that into this?

    Alternatively this is a weak attempt to set a false hare running. If so, nice to see lying is still promoted in the Labour Party.

  • Martina

    “We are being told that the country is affectively being run by the Chancellor.”  Where have we seen that before? 

  • Guido Fawkes

    Worst analysis I’ve seen in ages.

    • Dave Postles

      Off you go to Leveson.

      • M Cannon

        Lord Justice Leveson has backed off.  Mr Fawkes is not going to see him.

        The analysis is gob-smackingly awful.  Mr Osborne was the man behind the Tories’ strategy at the last election and is, as Mr Oborne’s column in today’s Telegraph makes clear, Mr Cameron’s right hand man.  Discontent with Mr Cameron is discontent with Mr Osborne.

        The aim of Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne has been to try to win over non-Tory voters (an obvious plan when you reallise that the Tories cannot win if only their members vote for them and that the number of votes the Tories got in 1997, 2001 and 2005 was not enough).  The risk – which manifests itself from time to time – is that the core voters become uneasy or even unhappy.  The coalition with the LibDems has produced compromises and sacrifices which are harder for the right of the Tory party to bear than the more centrist elements.

        Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne would be in a stronger position if they had delivered a victory at the last election against a failed and imploding Labour government led by a man who was plainly not up to the job of Prime Minister.  This is because (i) their internal critics ask “If Cameron and Osborne could not win in such favourable circumstances when will they ever be able to win?”; (ii) however extreme and dogmatic the present government may be seen or portrayed on this site, to the compromises already imposed as part of the strategy for winning the last election have been added the price of coalition with the LibDems.

      • John Ruddy

        That was probably Tory Bear – he seems to do most writing for Fawkes these days. 

        Even if Guido does honour his promise (or threat?) to go back to Ireland, he’ll no doubt phone in his vile copy for Tory Bear to submit.

    • Redshift

      I didn’t think much of it either but I have seen worse on your blog…

      • Anonymous

        Whether you agree with Fawkes or not, at least he has unaffiliated influence. And he scares politicians more than this blog ever will.

        If anyone at Labour List dared express an opinion which strayed from the party line they’d be dealt with the way Dan Hodges was at the New Statesman.

        That’s why hardly anyone takes any notice of it.

        • Alex Ross Shaw

          1) Unaffiliated? Really? He might not agree with everything the Tories do he’s clearly right-wing and closer to the Tories than Labour

          2) Labourlist posts plenty of articles that don’t agree with the party line. The editorial tries to be sympathetic but we’ve had articles slamming the strikes and articles supporting them. Neither of which are Ed’s position. Mark as editor has criticised Ed plenty.

          • Anonymous

            I agree there’s a wide range of opinion on LL Alex;
            hence popular readership and number one political blog
            2 years’ running?


          • Anonymous

            Right wing /libetarian but still unaffiliated.

            He goes after all sides .

        • Anonymous

          I suggest you hang around – you may find that LL is not quite how you imagine…

    • derek

      What? 400 years or so?

  • Dave Postles

    Strategy?  How about that?  ‘Credit easing’ introduced just when the head of the BoE warns banks to increase their capital reserves.  So, we have a policy which is likely to fall on deaf ears as banks consolidate their balance sheets. 

    • Mark Cannon

      I think you misunderstood Sir Mervyn King.  He wants banks to keep lending, but to strengthen their balance sheets at the same time.  This is because if the Euro survives, we need banks to keep lending to keep our economy growing, but if it collapses our banks will need strong balance sheets to survive.   It is, as you observe, not easy to achieve both of these objects at once, but Sir Mervyn’s solution is for banks to cut back on dividends for shareholders and bonuses for employees, using the money instead to bolster their reserves.

  • Wimbledon Labour

    What, the wrong spelling? Along with Oborne written as Osborne, the first few paragraphs of this article made we wince and instinctively regard it as a rush job. Reading the rest makes clear that the author has no evidence of a “plot” whatsoever. All in all, not clever.

  • Me

    “To stab someone in the back, you must first get behind them”

  • Nicky

    At first sight this article does sound like baloney. However, it has an accurate ‘feel’ to it. An internal leadership dispute within the Tory party is not inconceivable given their history, their ruthlessness and the utter emptiness and vacuuity of Cameron’s sub Blairite soundbites (past and present) both within and outside the Tory party

  • Mike Homfray

    Osborne and Cameron have broadly similar views. Both are modernisers – indeed, Osborne is definitely more socially liberal than Cameron and has a voting record on abortion and gay rights which would hardly appeal to some of the right-wing backwoodsmen. 

    Boris Johnson is likely to be Cameron’s main challenger but he is hardly a social conservative either. 

    Given that the fiscal and economic policies of the government are firmly towards the right, it is the social agenda which angers the right, and also the pragmatic approach to Europe


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