‘Chambermaid’ Cameron told to stand up to Lib Dems
David Cameron needs to rebuild the "damaged relationships" between himself and Conservative party members, a senior backbench Tory MP has said.
Brian Binley, treasurer of the 1922 committee for Tory members of parliament outside government, did not hold back in the second attack on the prime minister's leadership after a week.
"It seems that appeasing the childish tit-for-tat approach to politics that is the entire Liberal Democrat mindset has dominated his thoughts for far too long," Binley wrote.
"The country needs a full-time prime minister and not a chambermaid for a marginal, irrelevant pressure group who have got him in a virtual arm-lock with a constant stream of threats to abandon ship."
His comments came after energy and climate change committee chair Tim Yeo queried whether Cameron was a "man or a mouse" over the third runway at Heathrow.
Binley, the MP for Northampton South, claimed the "current set-up" of the coalition "isn't working" and called for Cameron to use the impending reshuffle to restore the Liberal Democrats to their place.
"It is time for the prime minister to put the country before the political needs of the coalition, and deliver policies that will create prosperity," he demanded.
"If that means abandoning Vince Cable, or upsetting the balance in Clegg's clandestine playground, so be it."
Binley is one of a growing number of Conservative MPs who are deeply dissatisfied with the coalition's progress. Many believe the Tories would be better off abandoning their coalition partners and eventually governing with a minority in the Commons until the general election in 2015.
Other observers say Cameron and Nick Clegg have too much personal credibility invested in the coalition's longevity to consider such a move. While Clegg faces another wave of stories about whether he will survive as leader until 2015 – and one supporter of potential successor Vince Cable openly questioning his leadership earlier today – Cameron is faced with bitter recrimination from his own party ranks.
Binley said the Tory leader had treated his backbenchers like an "unnecessary inconvenience" on issues like Europe, gay marriage and Lords' reform.
"Were he to have shown a modicum of respect for his wider party – who are, after all, the link with the country at large – he might just have surprised himself at how much they have to offer, and the positive impact it might have had on his own political fortunes," he wrote.
"Ken Clarke might believe that applying traditional Conservative principles risk harming the party's brand, but it's actually the reverse which is true.
"It is the government itself that is creating toxicity through grubby politicking and a wilful disregard for the party's traditional values."
Binley's criticisms came as chancellor George Osborne firmly rebutted Clegg's suggestion that a 'wealth tax' be imposed on Britain's richest to share the burden of austerity more fairly.
"What the country, the Conservative party and the captain of the ship needs now is not so much a re-shuffle as a re-think," he urged.
"The polls tell a consistent story and point to one inevitable conclusion. Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic will do nothing to alter the impression that the ship has lost its way. It's a change in direction which is needed and wanted."