James Forsyth

David Davis and the Tories’ class war

David Davis and the Tories' class war
Text settings

To the relief of Conservative Campaign Headquarters, relatively few Tory MPs have taken the opportunity of the County Council election results to sound off.

The most prominent exception to this rule is David Davis. Now, a DD intervention doesn’t have quite the same purchase as it used to—he’s made rather too many of them in recent years.

But his comments are revealing of the huge amounts of class tension inside the Tory parliamentary party. He complains that the rebellions of Jesse Norman and Nadine Dorries have been treated differently because one went to Eton and one to state school.

I suspect, though, that the actual explanation is that Dorries crafted hers to cause as much personal and political damage to the Prime Minister as possible. Norman never said anything equivalent to this, ‘Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don't know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others - and that is their real crime.’

Davis ends with a plea for ‘no more Old Etonian advisers’, Tel - Eton Messwhich he must have known would be the line that would get picked up—the Telegraph’s rather brilliant front page headline is ‘Cameron’s Eton Mess’ (right). I suspect that the nature of Davis’s attack will limit its impact, those Tory MPs I’ve spoken to today aren’t particularly excited by it. But it is revealing of just how much class is animating the current tensions inside the Tory parliamentary party. For a centre-right group, Tory MPs are oddly obsessed with the subject.