Westminster Advisers was delighted to be joined by Graham Brady MP, Chair of the 1922 Committee on Thursday 4th February, in what was our first in a series of social events to examine the Conservative party in government.
Following a ‘dry January’ for much of the company, Westminster Advisers invited guests for Thursday evening wine and nibbles, and a chance to mull over the key events that will test the Tory leadership, and unity of the party, over this parliament. With the Westminster village continuing its focus on Europe, much of the conversation inevitably turned to the referendum and the pressure mounting on the Prime Minister.
More perennial issues such as the next leader of the Conservative party, as well as the on-going debate over the UK constitutional settlement also featured, with questions from a range of representatives from the world of Scotch whisky to the UK’s major airports.
As the conversation turned to reflect on this year in politics, any self-respecting Tory of our time must first acknowledge the disaster of UK Labour. But Labour’s current mess, it was acknowledged, is bad for democracy, legislation and even the Government – because any good government needs an effective opposition. And whilst the Tories might at first have worried over their slim majority, they needn’t have – as few problems have arisen – in the Commons, at least.
As we topped up our Sauvignon and reached for the Twiglets, the question of democracy continued to dominate. The behemoth of the European Commission is, for many Tories, the greatest example of anti-democracy in practice. Surely then, with the rise of left-wing politics in the UK and the rejection of the political establishment, the EU ‘out’ crowd might be in for a serious shout come a June referendum? Despite this, as we did a straw poll of the room, there were decidedly more ‘ins’ that ‘outs.’
There’s no getting away from the fact that Tory backbenchers have been a thorn in the Prime Minister’s side for years, dominating issues such as Europe, climate change and energy policy – and preventing the Cameroons from losing touch with the grassroots. If Britain votes to remain in the EU (which is likely), a further period of EU ‘development’ and integration will ensue. Should this happen, Tory backbenchers won’t let the issue go away, especially as they look to the next leadership election.
As we turn to other issues – outside of the Westminster bubble – no good debate on UK politics is complete without the words ‘Nicola Sturgeon’ featuring. Quickly dubbed the ‘most powerful woman in politics’ during the 2015 General Election, her relentless ambition now has Tory backbenchers talking of federalism for the UK as the only solution to our constitutional headache. Good work, Nicola.
Finally, what we’d all been waiting for – the gossip on the party’s next leader. Is there a rising star in the Tory ranks we’ve all wistfully overlooked? A keen bean that will outshine Osborne and make for a winning formula to secure another much sought after outright majority?
Alas, no… the usual names were mooted, with no clear successor in sight. Could the embers of the EU debate burn on and a euro-sceptic candidate preside?
So, retuning to our theme, can the Tory party remain united? In short – yes. But only if they can win. After an unlikely victory in May, (getting rid of those pesky Lib Dems), many Tories have got their groove back and like the feeling sildenafil tablets 100mg. It’s simple, really. The candidate that can ensure success will galvanise the factions. But who is this miracle worker? Watch this space…