21/05/2013 10:29 BST

David Cameron's Tory Grassroots Outreach 'Too Little, Too Late'

File photo dated 8/5/2013 of Prime Minister David Cameron. A member of Cameron's inner circle has described grassroots Tory activists as "swivel-eyed loons", according to reports.

David Cameron's attempt at making peace with some of his party's activist base is "too little, too late", the chairman of a Tory membership group has said.

On Monday the prime minister emailed Conservatives following weekend reports that a close ally dismissed grassroots activists as "mad, swivel-eyed loons".

Dissent over issues such as gay marriage and Europe have fuelled complaints from some senior Conservative volunteers that Cameron is out of touch with the views of his party and is helping fuel an exodus to Ukip.

Cameron wrote: "Time and again, Conservative activists like you stand for duty, decency and civic pride. That's why I am proud to lead this party. I am proud of what you do. And I would never have around me those who sneered or thought otherwise."

However Cllr Robert Woollard, the chairman of the Conservative Grassroots organisation which campaigns for "core Conservative values", said the apology was not good enough.

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "It's too little too late, he's thrown us a bone but there is no meat on it. What we are asking for for is some decency, some respect some regard for our views."

And he said despite the denials from Downing Street, Tory activists were "quite used" to being mocked and dismissed by senior figures within the party.

Recalling a recent party meeting in London, Woollard said he overhead "some very derogatory comments from some of his [Cameron's] Pretorian Guard". He added: "There is a complete disconnect between No.10, CCHQ and the grassroots."

Woollard was one of the signatories to a letter submitted to Downing Street, signed by more than 30 present and former local party chairmen, that said the prime minister's support for gay marriage made winning the next general election “virtually impossible”.

However in a sign of how the party is deeply split on the issue, over 500 Conservative Party activists including association chairmen have also signed and delivered a letter backing the same-sex marriage bill.

SEE ALSO: Tory MPs Attacks Colleagues For 'Swivel-Eyed' Europe Obsession