David Cameron has urged his backbenchers to remain loyal in a letter that lays bare some of the Conservative leadership’s fears for party discipline over the long summer recess.
Writing to backbenchers as they depart for their holidays, Mr Cameron admitted: “People will be disappointed that some policies have had to be discarded – and so am I. I’m not going to pretend that having two parties in one government is going to be easy.”
But he made a plea for MPs not to spend the summer stewing over the party’s failure to win a majority in the election and the subsequent decision to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Cameron said: “We must remember the most important thing of all: Britain now has something that all Conservatives believe in profoundly – a strong and stable government acting in the national interest.”
The prime minister accompanied his letter with a list of the achievements he claims to have notched up in the first 10 weeks of power, including scrapping the rise in national insurance and establishing a national security council.
He asked MPs to keep the party’s grassroots on board with the coalition, telling them: “I hope you will be able to share these achievements with our loyal supporters who worked so hard during the campaign to make this possible.”
Mr Cameron hit back at comments by David Davis, one of the most senior Tory backbenchers, who called the government the “Brokeback coalition”, in reference to the film about two homosexual cowboys.
He told ITV News: “I hope that over time, if people are going to associate [the coalition] with a western, I hope they will go for True Grit because that’s what we are going to need.” He believed the coalition would be good for both parties, in spite of a collapse in recent polls for the Lib Dems.
His words come as part of a fresh attempt to regain the support of many backbenchers who have been disappointed with the concessions made to the Lib Dems.
Last week the prime minister addressed the final meeting of the 1922 committee of backbenchers before the recess, striking an emollient tone and praising their hard work. But his message is struggling to be heard among those most opposed to his leadership.
One told the Financial Times they “saw straight through” his 1922 committee appeal, and that the letter was a “nothing letter”.
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