James Forsyth

Cameron tries to calm troubled waters at the 1922 committee

Cameron tries to calm troubled waters at the 1922 committee
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By tradition, David Cameron stands outside meetings of the 1922 waiting to be summoned in. This meant that several late-arriving rebels had to walk past him on their way in. By and large, things were fairly cordial. But there was some tension at various points.

Cameron started with a tribute to the Chief Whip, which got the MPs banging the desks. Some are taking this as a signal that Patrick McLoughlin is to be retired in the reshuffle. But those present thought it was more of a public admission that the whipping problems of the last few weeks have not been caused by the Chief but by Number 10 and coalition.

There was, as usual, much talk of taking the fight to Labour. But all the attention was focused on what Cameron said on Lords reform in response to a question from Sir Malcolm Rifkind. He, in effect, said that without a small elected element, the boundary changes would likely be lost. But he also implied that he would not proceed with something that did not have the general support of Conservative colleagues.

 

It is hard to see how a PR-elected element could obtain the broad support of the Tory party. But there is much talk this evening in Tory circles of plans for indirect elections to the Lords. Whether this would pass muster with the Liberal Democrats is doubtful. But it is a solution being pushed hard by some of those closest to Cameron.