Published:

5pm WATCH

4.45pm Councillor Miles Windsor and Ben
Harris-Quinney on Comment: The same-sex marriage bill is a symptom of a wider
malaise at the top of the Party

12.45pm Aaron Ellis on Comment: Why we mustn't arm the Syrian opposition

ToryDiary: Lord Feldman should ring each Conservative Association Chairman to thank local activists for their work

Adam Afriyie on Comment: Why I'm optimistic about the future of our country and our Party 

Swivel-eyed loons 1) Are they Cameron's own words?

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 08.18.53"A report in the Financial Times at the time said Mr Cameron 'tells colleagues that anyone who wants to talk to him about the EU is 'swivel-eyed'.' The comment came in a major profile of the Prime Minister by the paper's respected political editor George Parker.  Mr Parker last night declined to say who told him the PM uses the term. The FT profile was compiled with substantial help from Lord Feldman, among others." – Mail on Sunday

Swivel-eyed loons 2) Feldman denies using the term

In a statement Feldman, who was a friend of David Cameron at Oxford University, said: "There is speculation on the internet and on Twitter that the senior Conservative party figure claimed to have made derogatory comments by the Times and the Telegraph is me. "This is completely untrue. I would like to make it quite clear that I did not nor have ever described our associations in this way or in any similar manner." – The Guardian

Swivel-eyed loons 3) Senior Conservatives believe Party Chairman's account, writes James Forsyth…

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 08.05.37"Feldman has contacted senior figures outside the Cameron set to emphasise that he didn’t say what’s been alleged and, interestingly, they believe him. The leadership has also contacted the top figures in the party to reiterate the denials.  This furore is so damaging because Feldman is Cameron’s creature, with the assumption their views are shared. He and Cameron go back to Oxford, where they served on a May Ball Committee together." – Mail on Sunday

Swivel-eyed loons 4) …But MPs rage. Dorries, Bone…

"The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who sparked fury when she complained that the party was being run by "posh boys", said that any senior Tory denouncing activists in such dismissive terms should be punished. "If I had made that comment I would have been disciplined," she said. "My activists are decent, hard-working people and they are very far from 'swivel-eyed loons'…The Tory MP Peter Bone said: "Clearly, anyone who takes these views could not possibly want to remain a member of the Conservative Party, even less still want to advise the Prime Minister." – Mail on Sunday

…Lewis, Baker…

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 08.30.15"Julian Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East, said: “These views are all too reminiscent of the faction of the party that has managed to gain control … this person is undoubtedly speaking with the unwise candour of all too many people at the top of the party.” Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, added: “It is intolerable to insult our members in such a casual and contemptuous manner. I really think David Cameron ought to fire whoever said it.” The MEP Daniel Hannan said: “We are talking about generous, patriotic people who give up their time to work for no thanks.” – Sunday Times (£)

…Rossindell, Brady

"Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, said: “This makes us long for the type of leadership we had with Mrs Thatcher. She would never have been disrespectful to activists. She spent time with them and treated them as equals…Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, said: “I’m shocked if anybody at a senior level in the party holds that attitude and has yet to learn that whatever disagreements there are within the party, we should treat others with respect, recognising the deeply held views and convictions that members and parliamentary colleagues have.” – Sunday Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Lord Feldman should ring each Conservative Association Chairman to thank local activists for their work

> Yesterday:

Paul Goodman: The problem is that grassroots Tories – and some very senior ones – think that it's what Downing Street really thinks…

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 08.31.15"But wherever the truth lies, the significance of the incident isn’t so much whether or not he described his own party activists in this contemptuous way. It lies in the fact that so many Tories, both inside Parliament and out, simply assumed that a senior member of David Cameron’s circle had indeed made such a remark. I spoke yesterday to three senior Ministers and one very senior backbencher.  They held different views on what Lord Feldman may have said to whom, but all agreed that members of Cameron’s No 10 team and some of his senior Ministers have a very low view indeed of Conservative activists." – Mail on Sunday

…And the timing of the row could scarcely be worse.  The same-sex marriage bill returns to the Commons this week.  Over 30 Chairmen lay into Cameron over his "refusal to listen"…

"The letter comes as more than 100 Tory MPs threaten to vote against same-sex marriage in a Commons revolt tomorrow. It says: “Your refusal to listen to reason and grassroots opinion is causing many previously loyal Conservatives to leave the party. “Some are lost forever and many will not contemplate rejoining unless the Bill is abandoned or the party leadership changed.” Grassroots Tories claim the gay marriage row could cost the party 1.3million votes. One of the signatories, Robert Woollard, of Wycombe Conservative Association, said: “It has made winning the next election virtually impossible.” – Sun on Sunday

…Meanwhile, Cabinet Members are unhappy. Grayling will vote for religious freedom amendments. Paterson and Jones will oppose the Bill outright.

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 08.41.48"Cabinet ministers are expected to be among the “rebels”. Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, indicated that he would support amendments to protect people who spoke up for traditional marriage, while David Jones, the Welsh Secretary, and Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, will both vote against the Bill at its third reading in the Commons…Both Mr Gove and Mr Hammond are suspected by MPs of being “on manoeuvres” to position themselves as future party leaders — and to have backed a “Brexit” from the EU to court the Tory Right." – Daily Telegraph

Will the pressures on Cameron crack the Coalition altogether? He hints that it may break up

"The Prime Minister said he is prepared to run the country without his Deputy PM unless Tory-Lib Dem feuding that has paralysed his administration ends.  Mr Cameron added he hopes to cling on to his ailing alliance with Mr Clegg as they tackle the economic crisis and other vital issues together. But in a move that could trigger an early General Election, he said: ‘The best way to do that is to continue with the Coalition, but if that wasn’t the case then we’d have to face the new circumstances in whatever way we should.’" – Mail on Sunday

Lord Howe outburst: Euro-sceptism is infecting the Conservative Party's soul

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 08.49.04"The Tory grandee says David Cameron has opened a Pandora's box by opposing the current terms of the UK's membership of the European Union and now appears to be losing control of his party. The prime minister's actions, Howe writes in the Observer, have turned an internal Tory problem into a national one. In a highly significant intervention over Britain's future, Howe laments the "new, almost farcical" level of debate over Europe in the Tory party, and says that Labour and the Liberal Democrats may need to bear the burden of retrieving the situation." – Observer

  • Cameron is losing control – Lord Howe, The Observer
  • Richard Ottoway jeered. John Baron rampant. Margot James doubtful – The Observer
  • Hollobone is top rebel, ignoring party orders 129 times, followed by David Nuttall on 88, Philip Davies on 85 and Peter Bone on 68 – Sun on Sunday
  • Two-thirds of voters say that Prime Minister should listen more to his backbenchers – Observer

Andrew Rawnsley: The Conservative Party could split

"Many have drawn a parallel between what is happening to David Cameron and what became of John Major in the belief that there is no more wounding insult to a Tory prime minister than to compare him with the man who tucked his shirt into his underpants. Yet I am not sure that is quite right. However badly the Tories were convulsed in the past, they just about held together. I think it is no longer impossible to imagine that ultimately the Conservative party will formally split over Europe – an outcome a referendum could actually make more likely." – Observer

  • David Cameron is so relaxed I want to slap him – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

UKIP hits record ComRes poll high

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 09.20.32"Two weeks after Nigel Farage's party achieved its best-ever result
in the local elections in England and Wales, a ComRes survey shows
almost one in five people plan to vote for Ukip at the next general
election. Labour has dipped to its lowest levels since Ed Miliband
became leader, down three points to 35 per cent, the Tories are down one
point on 29 per cent, while the Lib Dems remain stuck in single
figures, at 8 per cent." – Independent on Sunday

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – UKIP surges to a record 20% in an opinion poll as Cameron languishes

My plan is working, says Osborne

"Yes, it’s been hard and the road ahead is not easy. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. But we’re making progress. The economy is healing slowly, the tough decisions we have taken together as a country are beginning to pay off – and in me, you have a Chancellor who is going to stick to the course we have set out…I’m proud to live in a country that doesn’t run away from its problems. I don’t believe we should do the cowardly thing some politicians would prefer, leaving behind huge debts for my kids’ generation to pay off." – Mail on Sunday

  • Mervyn King criticises Chancellor's plan to boost housing market – Mail on Sunday
  • Beware of a second credit crunch – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times (£)
  • Matthew D'Ancona: What on earth's going on? Why aren't Tory backbenchers making more of the good economic news – Sunday Telegraph

Hunt wants senior civil servants to empty bedpans

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT"From next month, 200 senior officials will have to perform tasks such as mopping floors, emptying bedpans and serving meals to care home residents as the Government responds to the Francis Report into patient neglect at the Mid Staffordshire Trust. The plans, to be unveiled on Monday by Jeremy Hunt, will require top Whitehall officials to perform roles such as GP receptionist and hospital porter for a total of four weeks a year for six years." – Mail on Sunday

  • NHS Direct staff cuts lead to patient overload in A&E – The Observer

Gove heckled at head teachers' conference

"In a robust defence, Mr Gove went on to say: 'What I have heard is repeated statements that the profession faces stress, and insufficient evidence about what can be done about it.' He added: 'What I haven't heard over the last hour is a determination to be constructive, critical yes, but not constructive.' Delegates suggested he was the cause of headteachers' stress and groaned when he responded: 'If people find it stressful that I'm demanding higher standards, then I'm not going to stop demanding higher standards.'" – Mail on Sunday

Miliband targets corporate tax avoidance

Miliband Red Ed"In an interview with the Observer, the Labour leader urged David Cameron to find agreement at the G8 summit of leaders next month around an ambitious agenda forcing corporate giants to pay their fair share. He said that, if Cameron fails, he himself as prime minister would unilaterally act to make multinationals operating in the UK more transparent about the money they make here, the movement of cash around their corporate structures, and the justifications for the tax they pay." – Observer

News in Brief

  • Third alleged victim claims he was assaulted by Nigel Evans – Mail on Sunday
  • UK funds poll in Pakistan on US drone attacks – The Observer
  • Skiing accident MP Graham Stuart a victim of power politics as officials reject expenses claim for electric wheelchair – Mail on Sunday
  • Top judge warns Government's legal aid reforms could bring meltdown – Sunday Express
  • Sir Peregrine Worsthorne calls his brother-in-law 'cruel and selfish' for not sharing inheritance with his sisters – Mail on Sunday
  • MPs call for Met chief to quit over Plebgate leak – Sunday Times (£)
  • Beckham's last game – Independent on Sunday
  • MPs may get £10k pay rise – Mail on Sunday
  • Bercow increases his salary to £142,000 – Sun on Sunday

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