You may not be at all aware of it, but within the confines of the Conservative Party there exists a concerted effort to hold onto David Cameron as leader of the party. The severity of the loyalty to the current leader ranges: from a sort of, he must be kept in situ if there’s a hung parliament and the Tories are the biggest party; to holding onto Dave even if the party really loses.
This has all leaked from a Whips’ dinner, or so the Guardian tells us. I’m inclined to believe it. Because whatever your average Tory backbencher thinks (although I concede there’s pretty much no such thing these days), Cameron is the only person within the parliamentary ranks even slightly capable of winning an election. This is because the parliamentary Conservative Party kind of sucks overall, I mean when taken as a group – something they have in common with the parliamentary Labour Party, I hasten to add. When the talent pool is thin, it becomes even more precious.
Many a Tory points to Boris as the answer, but even the man who has managed to get a Labour leaning city to vote for a Tory could not pull it off at national level. The problems the party has are too great. Many Tory MPs want to get rid of Cameron out of ideological purity – because Dave is a bit whiggish, not one of us, really. I’m going to say the following in the most insulting way I can: how very Labour Party of you, chaps.
But even those within the Conservative Party who really despise Cameron have difficulty refuting the following: it is difficult to try and picture anyone other than the current prime minister occupying Number 10 come early June. No one else seems capable of doing it at the moment. When you shut your eyes and imagine anyone else in the role, nothing comes. This isn’t a good or a bad thing, as far as I’m concerned; it just is what it is.
In a way, the Save Dave crew are the perfect flipside to the #CameronMustGo bunch: David Cameron so perfectly captures the age we live in, he’s become a weird object of fixation, something that goes way beyond his premiership. Both camps know a post-Cameron Conservative Party would very possibly explode into several pieces, and that’s where they part ways: one wants to prevent that by all means, one wants to bring it on. Of the two, the #CameronMust Go lot are the more swashbuckling, certainly; the idea is that if Cameron goes, the Tories destroy themselves. Very possibly true, as I’ve already said. However, there’s the very slight chance that Owen Patterson winds up as prime minister, and I can’t imagine many calling for Cameron’s scalp on twitter have that in mind (the ones calling for it in tiny rooms in shires across the land being a different kettle of fish, obviously).
So the big question is: if the Tories end up as the biggest party in a hung parliament and can’t form a coalition with anybody, do they try and hold another election as soon as possible? And the even bigger question that comes out of that one is this: does Cameron remain leader in that set of circumstances? The Save Dave crew will have their work cut out for them at that point.