Only three things in life are guaranteed – death, taxes and that the Tory Right will cause trouble for the leadership when the going gets tough.
The going is certainly tough. The Conservatives were routed in the local elections. The only glimmer of light was the London mayoral poll, which Tory Boris Johnson won – but even there he was run close by Ken Livingstone, despite the Cricklewood newt fancier’s dreadful campaign. Double-digit Labour opinion-poll ratings are now the norm.
Right on cue, the Rightwing Conservatives have started to misbehave, even taking the extraordinary step of publishing their own Queen’s Speech in direct challenge to that produced by the Coalition. Paradoxically, their solution to the Coalition’s problem of increasing support for Labour is a shift to the Right.
David Cameron would be wise to ignore them.
There are signs that he will. Today’s Queen’s Speech contained plans to reform the Lord’s – a worthwhile aim perhaps, but hardly the public’s priority in the depths of a slump.
The reason that Lord’s reform has been included is to retain the services of the Liberal Democrats, for whom the policy has become a totemic substitute for electoral reform – and without whom Cameron would not have a government. It is also a direct challenge to the Right, for whom Lord’s reform is anathema.
While it is true that the wording of the speech makes no firm commitment to make the upper chamber fully elected, the fact that reform is included at all is symbolic.
We shall see how this plays out. But my best guess at this stage is that Cameron will be content to fight some internal battles with his own party rather than trek into an electoral wilderness. That strikes me as good management from the Prime Minister.