Do the Tories really care about back benchers ?

If you were a font bench Tory MP, a former minister or someone who might make the national papers, you can be guaranteed a pretty decent turnout for your funeral. So it is a shame that so few Tory MP's bothered to turn up today to the funeral of Sir Ralph Howell, former Conservative MP for North Norfolk.

According to my sources just one Tory MP turned up (Henry Bellingham) matching the presence of Norman Lamb (Lib Dem). Despite the fact that Sir Ralph Howell lived in Dereham (Mid Norfolk) and represented large parts of what will become the new Broadland and Mid Norfolk seats, my spies tell me they did not see Keith Simpson, the current MP for these areas (and the MP for Dereham where the funeral took place). I would love to be corrected on this issue if anyone knows if Keith Simpson was actually there. Even Iain Dale went, according to his blog, so if a former candidate can make it, surely more local MP's might have bothered ?

So it seems that provincial MP's who serve their party loyally for decades, but never make the front benches really don't count very much in David Cameron's Tory Party.

I never met Ralph Howell, but there was a genuine affection in North Norfolk for the way he stood up for North Norfolk and Norfolk in general. I remember well in 1993 when even Tories in North Norfolk were telling me that Sir Ralph had just days to live. Typically of North Norfolk Tories, they were wrong, and he went on to serve as North Norfolk's MP for another four years. I was not always a fan of his politics, but I applaud any MP who has a real resonance with the electorate which transcends party politics. Sir Ralph had this and that is why the Tories should remember him.


Crushed by Ingsoc said...

North Norfolk has an interesting history. When Howell won it in 1970, it had been Labour since the war, yet now it is one of the worst prospects for Labour in the county.

These aren't times when the old are remembered, in either main party.
Both hide from their past.

lettersfromatory said...

I think that making judgements about MPs' attendance at a funeral without knowing their individual circumstances is poor form.

Anonymous said...

your spies are once again incorrect

ali_wood said...

Well a dead backbencher is no use to them. Tory backbenchers have a large amount of power. Cameron has not yet tammed is right-winged eurosceptic traditionalist backbenchers. If Cameron moves forward towards the center ground, he will quickly be pulled back. It is very confusing for voters, you just can't understand tory policy it is constantly moving back and forwards.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Anonymous, I asked for more info, and you failed to supply it.

If my spies were wrong, I can assure you they were all Tories (my spies), so it wouldn't be the first time a Tory has told a lie.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Personally, I don't think it's wise to comment on funerals at all - they should be private affairs.