The Conservatives are really talking up last Thursday’s result. I don’t blame them – when all of the discussion leading up to an election is about how no one can win, getting a majority, even one of 12, looks like a massive triumph. The question now is this: will Cameron be held to ransom by the right of his party due to the narrow nature of that majority? And if so, what will that mean for the country?
The 1922 committee were immediately on manoeuvres. Graham Brady gave an interview in the press on Friday the 8th that was all about how Cameron needs all the help he can get in terms of forging new policy, and that the committee would only be too happy to oblige in this regard. It was couched in fluffy language, but was a veiled threat. The message to Cameron: if you ignore us like last time, you no longer have the Liberal Democrats to blame. Your majority isn’t that big; we’ll come for you. Also, while some of the appointments have been encouraging – Amber Rudd, Greg Clark – others have been less so (Priti Patel being placed in the cabinet sent shivers down my spine).
I was worried pre-election about a thin Tory majority more than any other result save a Tory-UKIP arrangement. The reason being that the right of the Conservative Party is very, very, very right wing and their ability to wreak havoc on the nation might become unbounded. And I do mean on the nation – not just pockets of it, but everyone. The biggest worry is the EU referendum. We are now locked into having a referendum that hopefully will put to bed an issue that has long festered in British politics, but that if I had to guess, will not. If we vote to stay in, as is likely, the Eurosceptics will never accept it. The result will be declared a “stitch up” and another referendum demanded. I hope I’m wrong on this, but if Scotland is the precedent, I’m fearful.
However, this thin majority thing could have its upsides too. David Davis has spoken up this week gone about the Human Rights Act and how scrapping it altogether would be a bad idea. To have someone on the right of the Tories saying this sort of thing is very encouraging. Again, with such a thin majority, it wouldn’t take many rebels to make any piece of legislation fail early on, perhaps even at Second Reading.
In conclusion, while the small size of the Tory majority might make it at times difficult for Cameron to ignore the siren call of his right wing backbenchers, it might well also mean that some of the more silly and/or dangerous things the Prime Minister wants to try and pass will end up on the scrap heap.