With friends like these... Tory leader's ally puts his foot in it

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Indy Politics

David Cameron is privately "much more conservative" than the moderate public image he projects to voters, one of the Tory leader's closest allies has claimed.

The remarks by Ed Vaizey, left, the shadow Arts minister, embarrassed the party leadership, which has been keen to distance itself from its Thatcherite past. Mr Vaizey told Vanity Fair: "He [Cameron] is much more conservative by nature than he acts, or than he is forced to be by political exigency."

His words were damaging as the men have been close friends for more than 20 years. They provide ammunition to Labour which insists the new, modernising face of the Tories masks an instinctively right-wing political outlook. Earlier this week Mr Vaizey suggested that Mr Cameron's wife, Samantha, might have voted Labour in the past and could even support Gordon Brown this year. Last night a senior Tory source told The Independent: "He [Vaizey] doesn't know his arts from his elbow."