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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Conspiracy theories dominate the news

The media is full of conspiracy theories this week as discontented Tory MPs brief journalists on the need for somebody else to do David Cameron's job. The Telegraph leads the way with a think piece speculating as to how serious the threat is.

They say that far from being a name plucked from a hat Adam Afriyie has been plotting for some time. A self-made millionaire who founded his own IT business, he has reportedly been cataloguing signs of Tory discontent:

Friends say he has a database of MPs prepared to defy Mr Cameron and possibly put their names to a letter demanding a vote of confidence.

His work has been underway since last summer. In particular, he has focused on MPs sitting for marginal seats who may be growing increasingly anxious about their chances of surviving the next election. “It’s the 'no-change, no-chance’ group,” one says. “Those who believe that they are doomed with Dave.”

Mr Afriyie’s allies insist that far from being a pawn in someone else’s leadership gambit, he has been working for months to build up an organisation. He has told friends that he wants Mr Cameron ousted before 2015, is preparing for that eventuality, and has something to offer his party.

Since last summer he has quietly worked his way around the party, seeking out senior figures whom he hopes might view his candidacy with sympathy. Supporters say he has spoken to more than 100 colleagues, but only a handful have so far signed up.

The small number of MPs who are prepared to put their name to this plot is not a sign it has no support however. Many MPs want it to succeed. Their reasons are varied but most boil down to dislike of the coalition and a perception that Cameron is not a winner. Is this going to be John Major all over again?
John Major had the advantage of having occupied two of the three senior ministries before the leadership election. One would expect Conservatives to choose someone with at least as much visibility to replace Cameron. If the party swings in a libertarian/Thatcherite direction, my money is on David Davis, the candidate Cameron defeated and an ex-shadow Home Secretary; if they look to mend internal fences, don't rule out a return for Hague.

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