On the Today programme this morning Edward Leigh and Michael Portillo unsurprisingly offered diametrically opposed perspectives on the direction the Party should be going in. Commenting on Brown’s bounce Leigh said:

"The way that we fight back is to show that we are not weak, we are not driven by PR, we are a party of principle. There’s only one way they can go, which is the traditional Conservative way, the right policies, the progressive policies of successful countries around the world of low taxation, deregulation, strong immigration controls, strong defence and building on the social responsibility theme of David Cameron. The fact is that traditional policies of all successful Conservative governments since the Second World War have all been much the same."

In response Portillo wheeled out the mantra that those policies lost us the last three elections and he urged Cameron to be a martyr for the centre ground cause:

"It is a moment of crisis, or at least a critical moment, in that it is very important that David Cameron should see off the people who want to undermine the strategy to position the Conservative Party on the centre ground. Many people like what David Cameron is doing, but they are not convinced that the party is following him… David Cameron has to take the party to the centre. It is possible it is not do-able, but he should certainly die in the attempt."

Michael Gove denied that the Party was in crisis but agreed that the election would be won "by sticking to the centre ground". He said Brown wasn’t underestimated and that his poll lead is a blip similar to that enjoyed by Eden, Callaghan and Major.

Deputy Editor

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