Michael Brown: Vindication for new leader's assault on Tory traditions

Share
Related Topics

The results have yielded evidence of serious progress after only five months of Mr Cameron's leadership. The unexpected gain of councils such as Ealing and Harrow, as well as the expected capture of Hammersmith and Fulham, Bexley and Croydon, means the Tory leader can legitimately claim to have exceeded both his party's and the pundits' expectations.

Several of the London boroughs actually yielded spectacular advances and there was clear evidence that Labour voters were making straight switches to the Tories.

The gains elsewhere in the South, notably in Crawley and Hastings, as well as Coventry in the West Midlands, all point to further excellent progress. The Tories' national share of the vote was 40 per cent and enabled the party's campaign headquarters to claim fairly to have met the top end of expectations.

Mr Cameron's Notting Hill brand of compassionate Conservatism clearly goes down well in the South and he will feel under absolutely no pressure from backbenchers to express occasional private reservations about his emphasis on green issues.

So there will be a firm determination to continue with the agenda set out by the new leader when he was first elected last December. There will therefore be no attempt from any quarter inside the Tory party to challenge the strategy.

Even if the results had not been as good as they were, Mr Cameron would have still continued with the strategy. In some respects, one or two of his most enthusiastic supporters would have actually relished public criticism of his strategy so they create an internal party row to enable Mr Cameron to be seen to be "taking on" the dinosaurs.

But election victories are far sweeter than some convoluted case for stirring up internal strife just to show the rest of us how "modern" the new Tory leader is compared to the dyed-in-the-wool, blue-rinse, hang-'em, flog-'em brigade of yesteryear.

Of course, winning some boroughs, such as Bexley, Hammersmith and Fulham and Croydon merely mirrors the parliamentary gains already made in these areas at last year's general election, when Michael Howard was party leader. In a sense, these advances have already been banked.

The Tories were wisely being careful not to exaggerate the council gains, and Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude deserve credit for the responsible way they portrayed the results. Both were making it clear the wins were necessary staging posts on a still-long road to recovery and victory.

Neither is under any illusion about the mountain that still has to be climbed and both recognise the party still has to demonstrate its new appeal to the North and large cities outside London. Much was made by Labour and the Liberal Democrats of the Tory failure to gain even a single seat in Manchester after so much investment in specific wards. But, given that Mr Cameron's first task in these cities is to rebuild and repair a party infrastructure that has been in a poor state of repair for more than 20 years, it is not realistic to expect immediate gains at this stage.

The drama surrounding Mr Blair's reshuffle is a compliment to the Tory leader's success. The reshuffle may have temporarily dominated the headlines, obscuring Tory gains and Labour loses, but the force could still be with Mr Cameron, rather than with the Prime Minister.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone