PM – Provoke the party faithful at your peril

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

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Is the Prime Minister losing his political marbles?

Some would say it was highly unwise at the very least (others might say “crass”) of him to tell MPs to ignore the views of their local party activists in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Does David Cameron not realise that it is these unpaid workers who do more than anybody else to get their parties into power and keep them there?

They trudge the streets morning, noon and night, knocking on doors and often getting a hostile reception. They spend hours on the phone, licking envelopes and cajoling people to support them – often a thankless task. They don’t do all that to be snubbed, even insulted, by senior politicians.

They are, in fact, far more crucial to the parties they support than any of the Members of Parliament they strive to get elected.

There has already been a backlash. No fewer than 44 local Conservative Party chiefs have written a letter condemning the Prime Minister’s “arrogant” instruction to his MPs. In the letter they say Cameron has “undermined” the goodwill that existed among loyal members and crucially warn him: “No Prime Minister has a divine right to rule.”

This is strong stuff and Cameron would be a fool not to recognise what a stupid mistake he has made.

There are some four years before the next general election and, no doubt, Cameron will be hoping this will be forgotten between now and then.

But these people have long memories, and they do not deserve to be treated like this. Cameron should apologise at the very least, or the Tories could be paying a high price at future elections.

And he will have only himself to blame.

The multi-faceted campaign to secure Britain’s exit from the EU, is in a state of disarray. There have been ego problems, internal squabbling and general mayhem.

Now, they have Lord (Nigel) Lawson, the ex-Tory Chancellor, given a key role at the top of the Brexit campaign. It is expected he will bang a few heads together to secure some semblance of order into the campaign. How politicians get themselves into this kind of mess with people supposed to be of a like mind, is hard to grasp.