Edward Leigh MP of the socially conservative Cornerstone group of Tory MPs has become the first influential voice within the party to raise public concerns at the Cameron strategy. It is rare for anything written in the sleepy House Magazine to attract much attention but Mr Leigh’s article for the Party Conference edition of the magazine is picked up by the Telegraph, FT and other newspapers. Mr Leigh warns that the Tory right may not be able to "take any more" of Mr Cameron’s modernisation agenda. Mr Leigh writes:
"I wonder if the Tory right – and our core supporters – can take any more. Whether or not people agree with us, freezing us out upsets the balance of politics. Most people end up thinking there is no difference between the main parties. So Bromley should teach us that going too far to attract the floaters is a very high-risk strategy."
After Bromley Stephan Shakespeare of YouGov warned – on this site – that whilst Mr Cameron may be appealing strongly to the voters who float between the main parties but he is not necessarily energising the voters who float between voting and not voting.
The EPP retreat, the caution on tax and public sector reform, the unwillingness to campaign on immigration and the reluctance to be specific about the family are all of concern to the Conservative right. ConservativeHome has long believed that David Cameron is right to broaden the Conservative Party’s appeal by building the party’s commitment to environmental and social justice issues but that this need not be done at the expense of the party’s core identities. The party should be broadening rather than changing. Some members of Team Cameron do believe in ConservativeHome’s ‘politics of and‘ but believe that the gentler, greener identities have to be emphasised before the party can return to its core messages. The danger of this approach is that the media will accuse Mr Cameron of flip-flopping when he does start talking about tax and immigration again.
ConservativeHome has worried that Project Cameron is out-of-tune with the world’s most successful conservative parties but, in an article for today’s Times, Stephen Pollard says that Mr Cameron is very much in line with the world’s newest conservative leader – Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden’s New Moderates. "The electoral success of the Moderate Party suggests the Tories should continue appealing to the centre ground," is Mr Pollard’s clear conclusion. The Daily Mail draws different conclusions from Sweden and hopes that "touchy feely Dave" will offer the kind of tax cuts and welfare reforms that Mr Reinfeldt has promised for Sweden.