Downing Street insider Lord Feldman 'taking legal advice', as he denies calling anti-Europe anti-gay marriage Tory activists 'mad swivel-eyed loons'

A senior figure in the Conservative Party reportedly said grassroots Tories are forcing MPs to oppose gay marriage and Europe

Number 10 has denied that "anyone in Downing Street" made comments describing Tory party activists as "mad swivel-eyed loons".

The comments, reported in a number of newspapers this morning, had allegedly come from a close aide to David Cameron.

And the party's co-chairman Lord Feldman has rebuffed internet rumours that it was him that made the comments, reported by The Times and The Daily Telegraph, from a figure with "strong social connections" to the Prime Minister.

A No 10 spokesman said: "It is categorically untrue that anyone in Downing Street made the comments about the Conservative Party Associations and activists reported in The Times and The Telegraph.

"Lord Feldman has also issued a statement... categorically denying it was him. The Prime Minister supports Lord Feldman's position."

Lord Feldman said in a statement: "There is speculation on the internet and on Twitter that the senior Conservative Party figure claimed to have made derogatory comments by The Times and The Telegraph is me.

"This is completely untrue. I would like to make it quite clear that I did not, nor have ever described our associations in this way or in any similar manner. I am taking legal advice."

The comment was made by a senior Tory who said MPs are having to put up a show of opposition to gay marriage and Europe simply to keep local Conservative associations sweet.

He suggested that were it not for the demands of party activists the MPs would be far less likely to take up extreme positions that have undermined the Prime Minister in recent weeks.

Referring to Wednesday’s vote when 116 Tory MPs voted against the Queen’s Speech, he said: It’s fine. There’s really no problem. The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad swivel-eyed loons.”

The vote came just a few days after the Prime Minister was driven to publish a draft referendum Bill on EU membership and shortly before next week’s vote on gay marriage when 150 Tory MPs are likely to rebel.

The comments, made at a private dinner, will further underline the belief among some Conservatives that the Prime Minister and his closest aides fail to understand the depth of feeling against  much of the Coalition’s agenda.

Grassroots members said after learning of the comments by one of Mr Cameron’s must trusted advisers that it illustrated the “utter disregard” with which they are treated by Downing Street.

“This sums up why David Cameron has so many problems with his party: because he and his entourage don’t like it very much,” Paul Goodman, editor of the Conservative Home website, was reported as saying. “It smacks of the way a trendy metropolitan couple might treat their embarrassing elderly relatives turning up at a party for their West Kensington friends.

“What this suggests is that Downing Street hasn’t grasped the distrust and dislike that runs through a big swath of the parliamentary party.”

MP Douglas Carswell, a critic of Mr Cameron over gay marriage and Europe, was quoted as saying: “Instead of treating the membership as the enemy, the modernisers should respect them as shareholders. If you treat the membership as the problem, you will eventually end up with a membership of one.”

But one Tory MP privately admitted to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that there was truth in what the aide said: “I don’t have a problem with gay marriage because the state has no business in our private lives. But I’ll vote against it because if I don’t I’ll lose half my association.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all