16 Nov 2011

Centre-left Tories to challenge Conservative Home

I reported during on the Tory conference on the formation of 2020 Conservatives, a group of centre-left and middle-of-the-road Tories who hope to help David Cameron in his several battles with the party’s right wing. Their aim was the rekindle the enthusiasm and thinking of the modernisation project which saw Cameron elected as Conservative leader back in 2005.

The feeling was that the right had made too much of the running in recent months, with better organisation at Westminster and the grassroots activist website Conservative Home. In short, they were a kind of Cameron Supporters’ Club.

I can report that 2020 Conservatives have been holding weekly meetings at 9pm on Tuesday evenings at Westminster (though not this week). Among regular attenders are ministers Greg Barker and Hugo Swire, two of the earliest Cameroons to declare in 2005, and the Immigration Minister Damian Green, who was a leading supporter of David Davis in 2005 (despite being very much on the left of the party). But most members are from the 2010 intake, including Nadhim Zahawi, George Freeman and Jo Johnson.

The group hopes to work on policy ideas for the 2015 and 2020 elections, but also to establish a significant website which will do for the centre-left what Conservative Home does for the right. They will have to be careful though. For any such project to make an impact, it require money and full-time staff, though I am told substantial resources are available. And a website set up in such circumstances may encounter significant resistance, and possible jibes of “toadyism”.