By Tim Montgomerie
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Is David Cameron finally getting his machine into shape? There are signs that he might be.
There has been the skilful and sensitive management of the sad death of Margaret Thatcher. The PM has used the period to reconnect with some of his MPs – dining with key Thatcherites and writing handwritten notes to every one of his colleagues who spoke in the Commons debate to mark her death. He was at Tuesday night's launch of Charles Moore's biography of the Iron Lady, meeting and talking with key members of her Cabinets.
Overnight he did two things that I've long recommended: (1) He set up a policy unit of Tory MPs and (2) he rehabilitated… Some of the new members of his policy unit are people who have rebelled against his authority, notably Jesse Norman and Peter Lilley. Yesterday the Downing Street drawbridge came down. Light was let into the Number 10 bunker and new thinking was invited into the Prime Minister's operation.
Jo Johnson is an able enough individual but it is regrettable that yet another Old Etonian occupies yet another key position at the heart of the party. Overall, however, we're seeing a Prime Minister who is finally getting serious about party management. Many people are correctly crediting Lynton Crosby with improvements to the operation, but the real driving force of better personnel relations is John Hayes MP – appointed as the PM's parliamentary adviser a few days before Lady Thatcher's death.
While the PM is in a forgiving and healing mood he should warn uber-loyalist colleagues to end their briefing against Theresa May. He should also restore the whip to Nadine Dorries. The whips want this to happen but Numbers 10 and 11 are resisting.