Yesterday ConservativeHome began a series looking at Project Cameron’s key achievements by focusing on the renewal of the party’s one nation tradition. Today we look at the unity at the top of the party. Tomorrow we look at ‘governing by proxy’.
Whenever I read a headline which includes the words ‘Top Tory’ I know I need to be suspicious. ‘Top Tory’ is invariably used by mischievous journalists to illustrate a story about somebody we’ve never heard of. There’s been a lot of Top Tory stories recently. Top Tory donors who haven’t given much to the party for a long time. Top Tories who are only 26 years old. Top Tory candidates upset at failing to get selected for plum seats.
What is remarkable is that the real Top Tories have been very loyal to Project Cameron. David Cameron’s most significant resignation was the departure of Graham Brady from the frontbench over grammarsgate. Graham Brady is a considerable figure but he wasn’t in the shadow cabinet. Much bigger Labour beasts have criticised Gordon Brown. I think, for example, of ex-Home Secretary Charles Clarke or Brown’s former Permanent Secretary who compared the Chancellor to Stalin.
All of the big beasts of Team Cameron have been united and loyal. Although some can be criticised for their work-rate – perhaps related to the extent of outside interests – the true Top Tories have been increasingly evident in the media, defending Project Cameron. David Davis has encouraged the right to get behind David Cameron. Liam Fox has backed the leader on grammar schools and climate change. William Hague has told the party that there’s no other show in town.
The unity has also been evident in the policy group process. David Cameron has succeeded in enlisting the support of people seen as right-wingers – IDS (social justice), Peter Lilley (international development) and John Redwood (competitiveness) – and those traditionally seen on the left – Stephen Dorrell (healthcare), Ken Clarke (democracy), Michael Heseltine (regeneration) and John Gummer (environment).
And what about true Top Tory donors? The Guardian – that bastion of pro-Tory comment – noted yesterday that the Tories are "in robust financial health" and listed some of the people who have delivered the financial improvement.
Even amongst grassroots members – where there is concern over strategy – 87% back David Cameron to remain Conservative leader.