James Forsyth

How can the Tory leadership solve its DD problem?

How can the Tory leadership solve its DD problem?
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As Tim Montgomerie points out, David Davis’s article in The Times today, which Pete flagged up earlier, is just the latest in a string of public disagreements Davis has had with the Tory leadership. A couple of these disagreements seem to have been designed specifically to rock the boat; I’m thinking of the comments on grammar schools and today’s attack on a caricature of Tory policy on health records.

The most telling thing about Davis’s article is the tone it is couched in. It is hard to see it as a constructive contribution to the policy debate when in his opening paragraph he calls the idea “so naïve” and “dangerous in its own right, and hazardous to the public acceptability of necessary reforms to the state’s handling of our private information.” As Sam Coates argues, Davis is deliberately picking a fight with the Cameroons.

If the leadership responded in kind, this dispute would just escalate. So their silence is a sensible strategy. But they do need to find something for Davis to do, otherwise his interventions are just going to become more and more problematic. They don’t want him to become a rent-a-quote for Tory splits story. (Although, I hear that the intervention they really worry about him making is on Afghanistan: Davis has mused to friends that the best option might be to get out completely).

A return to the shadow Cabinet for Davis is unlikely. It seems that Davis’ s resignation irreparably breached the trust between him and Cameron. But he needs to be shown some love if he is not to become an increasing painful headache for the leadership.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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