The ‘Tory right’ is not the answer to why the Liam Fox letter leaked

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 17 May 2011 in Diary
Now is not the time to become make a leadership move for the Conservative right-wing

The front page of the Times this morning revealing the leaked letter between Liam Fox and David Cameron was the major topic of discussion with Conservative around Parliament this morning.

A number of theories have been mooted as to why the letter leaked and who did it. One envisaged Fox resigning to become the leader of the right-wing of the Conservative Party. This would mean the defence job had become too unbearable. One PPS I spoke to this morning, who classes themselves as ‘of the right’ in the Conservatives, told me that Liam Fox actually lacks the support base in the party to be seen as any leader of the ‘Tory right’. They also doubted whether Fox has yet proved he’s got the leadership skills to become such a figure. They remembered how Fox failed to look Other MPs poured scorn on the idea that a politician would choose to leave such a powerful position in their political prime to sit on the backbenches being merely the Commons equivalent of a gang leader.

I can’t see why Liam Fox would leave the MoD in this manner. It’s too unsubtle and clumsy a move and would make Fox look flaky and hot-headed. There is another reason why the theory of Fox leaving to become the leader of the ‘Tory right’ doesn’t stack up.

There are those that believe the current travails of Chris Huhne highlight how weak Cameron is – he doesn’t choose every member of the cabinet in stark contrast to the preceding Labour PMs. The coalition agreement means Nick Clegg chooses the Lib Dems – those such as Huhne and Vince Cable causing most problems and most publicly unhappy. But to the Conservative Party, Cameron is in a very strong position right now. He won the AV referendum by a country mile – the biggest threat to his premiership so far. Other issues such as NHS reform don’t divide Conservative MPs neatly into a ‘right-wing’ camp.  

Someone like Liam Fox can’t help but notice that now would not be the best time to be a standard bearer for a ‘Tory Right’ that in reality is full of smaller groups and who’s biggest complaint against the PM has been spectacularly put to bed. You don’t now find Conservative MPs grumbling about AV. Cameron has his issues to face but his backbenchers are not his biggest problem at the moment.   

Tags: Conservative Party, David Cameron, Liam Fox

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