Conservative Voice: another right-wing challenge to Cameron?

Sep 11, 2012

Tory 'big beasts' Liam Fox and David Davis have launched a new group that aims to win back disaffected Conservative voters

WITH FANS OF Boris Johnson continuing to talk up a potential challenge by the London mayor to David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister faces another potential thorn in his side from the right of the party with the launch of a new pressure group called Conservative Voice.

Today, MPs Liam Fox and David Davis – Tory 'big beasts' who both lost to Cameron in the 2005 leadership election - have launched the policy group, which they say will work "alongside the leadership" to give "radical Conservatism a greater voice" within the party. However, there has inevitably been talk about a right-wing challenge to the authority of the Prime Minister.  

Andrew Pierce writes in the Daily Mail that Conservative Voice will be "seen by many as a snub to [Cameron's] policy-light Government".

The Daily Telegraph's James Kirkup finds it "significant" that the new group has said it wants to win back Conservative voters who have switched allegiance to the eurosceptic UKIP.

"The group insists that it will work with the party leadership, but its promotion of principles subtly at odds with Mr Cameron's own modernising agenda could increase tensions within the party," he writes.

The BBC's Ben Wright makes a similar point in the form of an imagined letter from Cameron to the men behind Conservative Voice. It reads: "Dear Davis, Foxy and friends.

"I too believe in aspiration, low taxes, and a small state. I want the Conservative Party to be an effective campaign machine that can win a majority at the next election. And I'm pleased with your offer of help.

"My small concern is that your new group might look to some like a challenge to me. I know you don't like the compromises of coalition and some of you think I'm rather too posh to connect with the aspirational working class voters Mrs Thatcher managed to win."

Political blogger Guido Fawkes went to the launch of Conservative Voice at the St Stephen's Club. "While everyone was on their best behaviour today, making sure to say nice things about the Prime Minister and how this most certainly was not a challenge to his authority, what is clear is that the right of the Tory party are at least trying to organise [themselves]," he wrote.

And one senior Tory even told the blogger: "This itself will not amount to much, but if it annoys the Prime Minister then sign me up."

If the commentators believe a conspiracy is brewing, perhaps the PM will be glad to know that not all right-wingers are on board with Conservative Voice.

Nadine Dorries, a right-wing Tory MP who earlier this year described Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne as "two arrogant posh boys" was unimpressed by the launch. Unfortunately for the PM she was rather more forthright in her views and told Guido Fawkes: "We need a kill Cameron strategy not a voice." She later stressed, perhaps unnecessarily, that she was speaking metaphorically.

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