David Willetts has long believed that the Government’s policy on overseas students is too restrictive. This is also one of Sayeeda Warsi’s many views. Ken Clarke thinks along the same lines.
You may agree or disagree with this stance, but one point is certain: election day is scarcely eight weeks away, presenting a united front matters, and this is no time for any of them to be giving quotes on the matter to the Times (£), as happened yesterday (or to anyone else).
Nor is it a time to shaft Greg Clark by telling the same paper about how he was slapped down in Cabinet over his reservations about further restrictions on hate preachers – which someone has done today.
Is it hypocritical for ConservativeHome to come over all Francis Urquhart about this, since we are as dependent on leaks as anyone else, and have been critical of bits of the campaign (though supportive of it on balance to date)? You will make up your own mind.
Either way, the obvious stands out. We are not Tory MPs and are not running for election – indeed, we are, as our mission statement puts it, “independent of the Conservative Party but supportive of it”.
This not the position in which one of the three people above finds himself. Clarke has many times made clear his opinion that there is no gain for Conservatives in banging on about immigration. It follows from his logic that he is mistaken to now do so himself.
The other two were senior Ministers in the Government not all that long ago. One of the strong points of the Tory push so far is that it has been more coherent than Labour’s – admittedly not a very competitive standard. Eroding that advantage will do nothing to open up a clear lead in the polls and marginals.