Dave’s Dilemma

The Conservative party is no longer riven with ideological division in the public way it once was, but the “mods” and “rockers” are still there, tooled up and ready to rumble. Indeed some suspect that the peace exists precisely because Cameron has steered clear of making tough ideological pronouncements.

Amassed to the right of him there are those who have never forgiven the party for dumping Margaret Thatcher — a group that one moderniser calls “the head-banging Europhobic tax-cutters”. They want to see a flash of the old, a firm commitment to reducing taxes and an end to the “namby-pamby” politics of equal rights and work-life balance.

On the other side are the “über-Cameroons”, metropolitan-based modernisers who want their leader to go further in burying his party’s unpopular past and set out a more principled compassionate agenda. They value social workers above tax cuts and cheered Cameron’s recent apology to Nelson Mandela on behalf of the party for having once branded him a terrorist.

In short, there is a turf war going on for the soul of the Tory party and Cameron is caught in the middle of it. Until now he has made good mood music and given neither side anything substantial to get angry about. Now he is being asked to produce the beef.