James Forsyth

Keeping the backbenches occupied

Keeping the backbenches occupied
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In this new world of Coalition politics, there is a difference between Conservative party policy and government policy. There are things that the Conservatives would like to do but can’t do because they didn’t win a majority. As Tim wrote this morning, this provides an opportunity for the Conservative parliamentary party to fill this gap. When the backbench policy committees of the 1922 are set up, they should start working on developing, detailed policy ideas rather than just critiques of Coalition policy.

The Prime Minister should encourage this for three reasons. First, it would provide him with a series of possible options for the next manifesto. Second, it would give him an insurance policy against the Coalition collapsing — he’d have a ready alternative programme. Finally, it would be constructive use of MPs’ time. One of the most dangerous things for Cameron is a parliamentary party that is bored and feels underappreciated.

Of course, there also need to be people who act as policy outriders for the Coalition. But that is a story for another day.