James Forsyth

A day of Tory grumbles

A day of Tory grumbles
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Today is one of those days when you can’t walk around the Palace of Westminster without bumping into a Tory with a grumble about the coalition’s polices. First of all, there’s massive irritation that the government has been forced into agreeing that prisoners should have the right to vote. It has revived Tory concerns about the ECHR and annoyance that the presence of the Lib Dems in the government means that nothing will be done about it. Then, there’s this Anglo-French defence agreement. Tories are, understandably, deeply suspicious of anything that smacks of giving the French a veto over the deployment of British forces. For many Tory MPs, the answer to Sarkozy’s question - "If you, my British friends, have to face a major crisis, could you imagine France simply sitting there, its arms crossed, saying that it's none of our business?" — is yes, all too easily. Finally, the EU budget deal still rankles with some of the more determined Euro-sceptics.

Now, this grumbling is just grumbling. As long as the coalition is dealing so decisively with the deficit then Cameron can rely on the support of his party. But if the deficit diminishes in importance as an issue, then these niggles will come to matter more.