David Cameron received a grilling from the right-of-centre No Turning Back Group last night. A dozen of the party’s more Thatcherite MPs expressed serious concern at the Tory leadership’s repositioning on tax and grammar schools.
David Davis and John Redwood were at the meeting and offered their own support to Mr Cameron but the overall mood of the meeting was "deeply antagonistic" according to my source.
Unlike the socially conservative Cornerstone group of Tory MPs – which is very committed to the new leader’s social justice agenda – the NTB is widely regarded as unreconstructed keepers of the Thatcherite flame and are unenthusiastic about any rebalancing of the core messages.
Lord Ashcroft, who now has responsibility at CCHQ for polling, addressed a full meeting of the parliamentary party this morning. He was unable to report any seismic improvement in the Tory brand – the problems of which he identified in his Smell the Coffee General Election report. He was able to show that target voters were more receptive to at least listening to Conservative spokespeople, however.