Cameron 'baffles' traditional Tories

Winterton speaks up for grey-haired Tories
Winterton speaks up for grey-haired Tories

David Cameron's modernising reforms have "baffled" the Conservative party, one of his own backbenchers has claimed.

Ann Winterton has warned her "young" leader not to ignore the party's traditional bedrock as he moves into the centre ground.

Speaking to Parliamentary Monitor magazine, the veteran MP said: "Some of David Cameron's attempts to shift the Conservatives' direction have left much of the party's traditional support baffled.

"People are willing to give him more time to establish what the policies will be at the time of the next general election but I am very concerned about the leadership of the party, and I don't just mean David Cameron."

She said Mr Cameron was young and inexperienced by parliamentary terms and was being advised by even younger figures.

He should not forget that "those with grey hair" would form the largest voting block at the next election, Lady Winterton said.

She warned: "It is vital that they are not neglected as the policies are formulated."

Tory voters are "baffled" by many of his reforms and worried the issues "they feel very concerned about are being swept to one side," she continued.

Lady Winterton pointed to the recent grammar school row as a case in point, adding nothing coming from the Conservative leadership had changed her view on the value of grammar schools.

Meanwhile, Labour has accused Mr Cameron of sidelining his reformers in his latest reshuffle.

David Willetts, who handled much of the fallout from the grammar school row, has lost his responsibility for schools, speaking instead on higher education.

Francis Maude, described by Labour as the original moderniser, has also lost his position as party chairman in Mr Cameron's reshuffle.

"Cameron has handed the reactionary wing of his party the scalps they were looking for in demoting David Willetts and Francis Maude," Joan Ryan, Labour party vice chair of campaigns.

Although Mr Cameron's latest reshuffle has been seen as an attempt to promote young faces to offset the Miliband brothers, Ed Balls and Gordon Brown's other rising stars, Ms Ryan pointed out the right of his party have been rewarded.

Old Tories William Hague, David Davis, Liam Fox and George Osborne have all kept prominent positions in the shadow Cabinet.

Ms Ryan said: "While Labour is breaking ground with the first ever female home secretary and the youngest foreign secretary in a generation, Cameron's panicky reshuffle is only interested in staving off the threat from the right wing within his party."


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