Poor David Cameron. He has tried so hard over the years to convey the impression that he has dragged the Conservative Party kicking into the 21st century. But now that the tight discipline of the election campaign is long gone, old-style Tories seem hell-bent on kicking back. The remarks by the former MP Howard Flight – soon to be ennobled – about the breeding habits of the poor are only the latest example.
Last week we had the 1980s Cabinet minister Lord Young opining, over the clink of expensive cutlery, that most Britons "had never had it so good" during the "so-called recession" and predicting that before long everyone "will wonder what all the fuss was about". Before that there was Iain Duncan Smith reprising the infamous Norman "on yer bike" Tebbit by telling the unemployed to get on the bus to find work. And there was the remark of the Tory MP Anthony Steen, at the height of the MPs' expenses scandal, that voters were "jealous" because of his "very, very large house". Same old Tories, the opposition cry at each patronising or ill-informed piece of nonsense from these old backwoodsmen. Some of them seem only to have the most passing acquaintance with the real world the rest of us inhabit. Mr Cameron's reshaping of the old behemoth clearly has some way to go.