Many pundits like to point to the Labour Party, where the blessed Tone has fallen out of favour with so many members, telling that under his leadership The Red Team won three General Elections and scored majorities that eclipsed even that achieved by Clement Attlee in 1945. Why, the question is asked time and again, would they turn their backs on their most successful leader? But the malaise is also afflicting the Tories.
Young Dave, the self-proclaimed “heir to Blair”, got The Blue Team its first taste of Government for 13 years. He then got them their first General Election majority for almost a quarter of a century. But his party is, if anything, more divided on the EU than it was under “Shagger” Major, so when Cameron declared that he would campaign for Britain to remain an EU member state in the upcoming referendum, the gloves came off.
Yes, with more than three weeks before the referendum vote, the Tories are indulging in a bout of self-serving infighting that makes Major’s time in 10 Downing Street look positively benign. The Murdoch Sunday Times quoted an unnamed Tory MP (understandable, given what was said) telling “I don’t want to stab the Prime Minister in the back - I want to stab him in the front so I can see the expression on his face”.
There was more: “You’d have to twist the knife, though, because we want it back for [George] Osborne”. Then he went totally OTT: “All we have to do is to catch the Prime Minister with a live boy and a dead girl and we are away”. Away with the fairies, more like.
Even Iain Dale, who is someone generally sympathetic to the Tories, and is leaning towards voting Leave, is clearly exasperated by the behaviour of some back benchers: “MPs Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries have called for David Cameron to be overthrown whatever the result of the referendum. Yes, you read that right. The political titans Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries think they know better than the people who voted for David Cameron last May”. This is important.
Dale and Ms Dorries have previously been on good terms: this shows the irritation with some of the more outlandish backbench behaviour. He also points out that Ms Dorries voted for Cameron as leader back in 2005 over David Davis. He adds, with some prescience, “They’ve given every media outlet an excuse to ignore the issue of the day for the Leave campaign and instead indulge in leadership speculation”. Correctamundo.
So it has come to pass: i has gone with “Tory plot to topple Cameron”, while the Guardian has “Tories’ Brexit rift widens as rebels call for Cameron exit” and the Times goes with “I dare you to depose me, Cameron tells rebels”. He does have a point: Dave polls well ahead of his party, and if the Government were destabilised to the extent that an early General Election was called, the electorate might not be as kind to The Blue Team as they were in May last year, especially given additional scrutiny of their spending habits.
And don’t think it would be better with Bozza: the realisation of his disastrous tenure as Mayor of London is only now starting to hit home. The clown act the public might like, but they aren’t keen on the serial dishonesty - or the yet worse catalogue of ineptitude.