Tories play down rift after Osborne criticises ‘modernisers’


by Leon
27th September, 2007 at 4:46 pm    

Is Osborne the olive branch the Tories need or simply hedging his bets in Cameron’s last days?

Rumours of growing division in the senior ranks of the Conservative Party increased last night as George Osborne was accused of distancing himself from David Cameron and the modernisers in the party. Mr Osborne, the shadow Chancellor is a close friend of the Tory leader and has been a leading architect of the modernisation of the Tory Party in an attempt to widen its appeal.

However, the strain of a growing Labour lead and the threat of an early election has begun to show. In an eve-of-conference interview with The Spectator, Mr Osborne said: “I don’t take the kind of über-modernising view that some have had, that you can’t talk about crime or immigration or lower taxes.”

One former Tory shadow minister said: “We are falling apart under the strain.” [via The Independent]

I really don’t know what’s going on with the Tories these days. For the most part I’ve welcomed the attempts to modernise the party (although it now looks to be only skin deep). I’ve said on here at least once that Cameron’s best bet is the stay the course; don’t let the reactionary right obscure his attempt to reach out with the reasonable right.

Plenty of times over the last six months various people close too or within the party have told me of an internal power struggle. There are two factions vying to sway the leader and the party’s direction. Events of the last couple of months makes me think it’s more akin to a civil war.

Each group has had their successes but with Cameron’s catastrophes and Brown’s bounce one side looks like its now taking hold. How long before the king is slayed and a full lurch to the right happens?


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  1. Kulvinder — on 27th September, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

    They just don’t seem able to focus in on one area of ‘conservatism’ that they can all agree on. To be perfectly honest their core voters, more ‘liberal’ MPs and funders all belong in different political movements.

  2. Kulvinder — on 27th September, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    nb a ‘full lurch to the right’ would be hysterically funny in highlighting just how out of touch the tory party has become.

  3. Rumbold — on 27th September, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    Osbourne and Oliver Letwin have been at the forefront of the Tories’ pledge to keep taxes too high. This has been a tactical blunder by Cameron, but for all that, he still represents the best chance that the Conservatives have. The party and its funders need to stop fighting now, and go into the next election united. If they lose, that is the time for bloodletting, not in the run-up to a possible election.

    I do not like everything that Cameron has done, but the members did give him a mandate to modernise the party, and if we do not see it through then what was the point?

  4. Sunny — on 27th September, 2007 at 6:22 pm  

    Agree with Rumbold. Besides, I suspect this is more mischief making by the Indy than a squabble. DC has never really been that radical in his ‘modernising’ agenda.

  5. A Councillor writes — on 27th September, 2007 at 8:11 pm  

    Well, they haven’t got long to sort themselves out. I’m hearing either November 1st or November 8th, with the former as being the most likely.

    Great, virtually no leave left which means miserable leafletting sessions in the dark, canvassing with no-one going to open their doors because it’s cold, wet and dark and probably a new record low for turnout.

    I love elections :-)

  6. Sunny — on 27th September, 2007 at 8:16 pm  

    I’m hearing it’s very doubtful.. grrrr.. this is really annoying.

  7. Kulvinder — on 27th September, 2007 at 8:19 pm  

    I’m unclear on the exact time notification they need to give for an election? Do you have any idea when they’d have to announce it by for that kind of date (begining of november?).

    In all honesty i think the snap election reports have gone over peoples heads, it’ll be quite a surprise.

  8. Kulvinder — on 27th September, 2007 at 8:21 pm  

    The party and its funders need to stop fighting now, and go into the next election united

    Is that really still a problem?? I thought the tories had distanced themselves from Paul Sykes type individuals.

  9. A Councillor writes — on 27th September, 2007 at 8:32 pm  

    Kulvinder – you need just 17 working days to call a general election, so for instance, if His Immensity decided to pay a quick visit to the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’s tonight, he could have an election on the 23nd of October (it doesn’t *have* to be a Thursday, but it almost certainly will be).

    Sunny – I know that the Red Team had a big emergency meeting last night here (probably about the two unselected seats, one Labour held and one not Labour held) during which there was some considerable disquiet and posturing and a certain sense of urgency.

    I think he’ll wait until after the Tory party conference and see what the chicken entrails show then. I also understand there may be another unpleasant surprise for the Tories during the conference.

    B**ger, I’ve just realised that if there is an election, I won’t get to go to Berlin.

  10. Leon — on 27th September, 2007 at 9:10 pm  

    Regarding the GE; if the rumours are right (which some rightwing blogs have picked up on) a defection or two might be happening this weekend. If that does and the polls stay strong I reckon Brown will announce next week…

  11. douglas clark — on 27th September, 2007 at 10:13 pm  

    Leon,

    Re GE fever.

    I think Kulvinder is right. I think most people have seen this as just ‘situation normal’ with politicos posturing. It will come as a big surprise if it actually happens.

    What the outcome might be is an interesting question.

  12. newmania — on 27th September, 2007 at 10:37 pm  

    Osbourne does nothing without Cameron`s say so . Its a way of broadening the message . Honestly the Independent; what do you expect . If you we to look at the Times the Sun , the Mail and the Telegraph you would see another view.I am a great Cameron fan nad if he turns out to be our Kinnock not our Blair well he has done a vital job. Letting Gordon Brown in a with an open field is unthinkable.

    I think a lot of people are bemused by a left wing commentary that detects splits whenever we disagree. WE are allowed to disagree but I have never noticed anything but good will. I think because criticim in the Brown reich is so verboten the slightrest squeak is amplified to delicately attuned ears accustomed to near silence.

    It is odd anyway

  13. newmania — on 27th September, 2007 at 11:27 pm  

    Incidentally annoying though Jag shallow is I must say this is superb blog and alway interesting. Congrats to the contributors and editor ..even if I probably would not agree on much .In wonder if right wing bloggers should look at consolidating resources.

  14. Leon — on 27th September, 2007 at 11:39 pm  

    Stick around newmania, the best is yet to come.

  15. Letters From A Tory — on 28th September, 2007 at 8:55 am  

    This is such a non-story. Osborne wasn’t distancing himself from anyone, he was just pointing out that issues such as the environment do not have to replace things like taxation and immigration on the political agenda.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/poor-polly/

  16. Leon — on 28th September, 2007 at 10:15 am  

    It’s not a non story because of the context I’ve identified of sliding polls, Tory disarray, etc.

    Even Iain Dale is warning you guys to keep your mouth shut and toe the party line during conference because things have got so bad.

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