2012 Local Elections: Tory MPs Demand Cameron Change Course

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CAMERON LOCAL ELECTIONS
David Cameron Will Be Under Mounting Pressure From Backbenchers | PA

Many Tories are either asleep or licking their wounds after a pretty awful night in the local elections in England and Wales. So far the party has lost control of 13 councils - a net loss of more than 350 councillors.

They might feel better later if Boris retains the job of London Mayor, but for now MPs on the right of the party are annoyed at the tactics of the leadership - and some of them are quite happy to say so.

Some of the major losses include Harlow in Essex, Great Yarmouth and Plymouth, plus a wipeout of Tory seats in Dudley in the the West Midlands.

David Cameron told reporters on Friday morning that he was sorry for all the Tory councillors who'd lost their seats, but didn't seem to offer any change of course.

"These are difficult times, and there aren't easy answers. What we have to do is to take difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and the broken economy that we inherited. We'll go on making those decisions because we've got to do the right thing for our country," he said.

Not all Tories believe Cameron's present course is sustainable. On Friday afternoon a former junior member of the government, Stuart Jackson, told BBC Radio 4: "He’s on notice, he does need to raise his game and focus on bread and butter issues like jobs and mortgages."

Jackson is arguably the most senior Tory to voice dissent - he quit the government six months ago over a vote in the Commons on the European Union. But he's far from alone.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell, who doesn't enjoy the best of relationships with David Cameron, told HuffPost on Friday morning:

"These results show why we need to deliver the EU referendum we promised when in opposition. UKIP cost us a number of seats in council elections. If repeated in a General Election, this will mean us losing dozens of seats and make an overall majority less likely. More 'wind turbine Toryism' is not the answer."

And it seems that those Tories who are on the right of the party are keen to stick their oar in. Mark Pritchard - who is stepping down as secretary of the backbench 1922 committee - told us : "This should be a wake-up call for all those who think diluting orthodox conservatism will bring electoral success."

Although Tories have been fairly reserved on Twitter - either pointing out a rare win or saying nothing at all - a few have vented their frustration:


Christopher Pincher
2 Lab gains in Tworth by tiny margins + hopes of winning Amington/Mercian dashed. Must now refocus on comm'ing popular/important policies.

Daniel Byles
Disappointing results this evening in Bedworth. We lost some very hardworking councillors. Heading home - early start tomorrow.

Another Tory MP who doesn't want to be named (possibly hoping they will be among the contenders in a potential reshuffle?) - told us their fears about the coalition becoming distracted.

"To be honest much of it is to be expected, but at the same time our party's focus has been on the Mayoral election and boris so I'm not surprised what's happened is nationwide," they told HuffPost.

"The Queen's speech next week has got to be major, one to recalibrate the economy. We cannot carry on talking about the reform of the House of Lords. We are in a recession and that has to be the only focus of this government. "

See also:

Cameron And Clegg 'Sad' And 'Sorry' Following Election Battering

Massive Rejection For Cameron's Elected Mayors Plan

Labour Man Takes Liverpool Mayoral Election By A Landslide

Boris Johnson Takes Early Lead In London Mayoral Race

The complaints are not restricted to the back benches. Reflecting on the results on Friday morning, Tory defence minister George Howarth suggested the losses could be down to plans to introduce gay marriage.

“There are issues, for example, like the proposals for gay marriage," he said.

“A lot of Conservatives have written to me saying ‘I am a lifelong Conservative, there is no mandate for this, why is this being proceeded with?’.

The coalition plan to bring in same-sex marriage has the support of all three main party leaderships, but it is unpopular with some on the right of the Conservative Party.

Howarth also took aim at Lords reform: “There is the business of trying to change the House of Lords. Do we need to do this at a time when the nation is preoccupied with restoring the public finances?”

The criticism was batted away by foreign secretary William Hague who said: "I don't think these elections results are about those issues."

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