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David Cameron negotiates rightward steer
05 March 2013 09:12 AM
After a crushing third place finish in the Eastleigh by-election, David Cameron was bombarded with calls to steer his party rightwards, the only course backbenchers felt could win back voters from Ukip, the Eurosceptic party which finished above the Tories in second place. Cameron, in a Telegraph op-ed, announced he would not heed the cries: "The battle for Britain's future", he said, "would not be won in 'lurching to the right'". But will the Prime Minister be true to his word?
Janan Ganesh, writing in the Financial Times, isn't so sure. "The Tory campaign was itself a homage to Ukip, with its strident candidate and its plundering of the old tropes of Europe and immigration". (Some Conservative leaflets even borrowed Ukip colours). To keep order in his party Cameron will be forced to make continual concessions to the right, "a referendum here, tough talk on human rights there". The chance to modernise the Tories has gone, argues Ganesh. Now Cameron must hope his buy-offs of the right "will not add up to a noxious electoral offering" by 2015.
The Times's Rachel Sylvester reprimands the Tory traditionalist wing that refuses to recognise Cameron's inherent Conservatism - and seems spiritually paired with Ukip. "The Tory leader is far more Conservative than liberal", she writes. Conservatives need to accept some modernisation is necessary if they are to present a viable choice in 2015. Hardliners will have to cut Cameron some slack.