Tory party chair Grant Shapps campaigning in Rochester. Photo: Getty
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Which Tory MPs haven't campaigned in Rochester yet, and what does this tell us?

The chief whip, Michael Gove, names and shames the Tory MPs who haven't yet visited Rochester and Strood to campaign against a Ukip win.

The Conservative party is becoming increasingly strict about its campaigning in Rochester and Strood, ahead of the by-election on 20 November. Unnerved by the polls giving Ukip – whose candidate Mark Reckless used to be one of their own – the lead, the Prime Minister has instructed his MPs to visit the constituency "at least three times" before the polls close, with cabinet members and whips visiting at least five times.

The Telegraph reported this morning on the chief whip Michael Gove's tactic of sending out regular "Roll of Honour" emails to the parliamentary party, listing the number of times each MP has visited the seat, and naming and shaming those who have yet to travel to Medway to take on their former colleague.

I got hold of one of these emails, and the 108 MPs who are listed under "0 visits" sent around late yesterday morning (some of whom may well have been embarrassed into scampering to Kent today) makes interesting reading.

I won't publish all the names, but the list includes:

Cabinet members

Eleven ministers haven't yet made the trip, including cabinet members such as the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. High-profile ministers on the list include business minister Matt Hancock, Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom and defence minister Anna Soubry, and almost all the health team. The new education minister Sam Gyimah is also on there, and he used to be David Cameron's PPS...

Those who have been identified as having a better chance running under the Ukip banner

Nigel Mills

Martin Vickers

David Nuttall

Chris Kelly


Those who have been rumoured as potential defectors

Peter Bone

Philip Hollobone – the most rebellious MP

George Eustice

Bill Cash

John Baron

Henry Smith


Rogues and eurosceptics

Nadine Dorries – has referred to Cameron and George Osborne as "two arrogant posh boys" and floated the notion of candidates running on joint Ukip-Conservative tickets

John Redwood – one of the most media-happy eurosceptic backbenchers

Adam Afriyie – once rumoured as a stalking horse for the Tory party leadership, and tabled a rebel amendment calling for the EU referendum to be brought forward to 2014


Although the absence of a number of ministers is probably more down to their time pressures than any political statement, 11 is a surprisingly high number considering the by-election is only a fortnight away.

More significant is the number of MPs either linked to eurosceptic views or more directly to having some alignment with Ukip's overall agenda who haven't been to campaign. This list is a telling insight into the general party's attitude to this by-election. The Tory line is that Reckless is not as popular a figure among constituents as their first defector, Douglas Carswell, is in Clacton. One cabinet minister told me at the party's conference that Reckless is a "complete dick". But it seems many of the party's MPs would prefer not to battle against him in his constituency – or rather, to battle against Ukip.

Reckless himself – although it is admittedly in his interest to do so – suggested to me that, if he wins, there could be more Tory defections ahead:

There are one or two Conservative MPs who I've had conversations with, and I spoke to a number of colleagues who are keeping matters under review; some will be looking very closely at me during the by-election, but whether anyone else will move, I don't know.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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The future of policing is still at risk even after George Osborne's U-Turn

The police have avoided the worst, but crime is changing and they cannot stand still. 

We will have to wait for the unofficial briefings and the ministerial memoirs to understand what role the tragic events in Paris had on the Chancellor’s decision to sustain the police budget in cash terms and increase it overall by the end of the parliament.  Higher projected tax revenues gave the Chancellor a surprising degree of fiscal flexibility, but the atrocities in Paris certainly pushed questions of policing and security to the top of the political agenda. For a police service expecting anything from a 20 to a 30 per cent cut in funding, fears reinforced by the apparent hard line the Chancellor took over the weekend, this reprieve is an almighty relief.  

So, what was announced?  The overall police budget will be protected in real terms (£900 million more in cash terms) up to 2019/20 with the following important caveats.  First, central government grant to forces will be reduced in cash terms by 2019/20, but forces will be able to bid into a new transformation fund designed to finance moves such as greater collaboration between forces.  In other words there is a cash frozen budget (given important assumptions about council tax) eaten away by inflation and therefore requiring further efficiencies and service redesign.

Second, the flat cash budget for forces assumes increases in the police element of the council tax. Here, there is an interesting new flexibility for Police and Crime Commissioners.  One interpretation is that instead of precept increases being capped at 2%, they will be capped at £12 million, although we need further detail to be certain.  This may mean that forces which currently raise relatively small cash amounts from their precept will be able to raise considerably more if Police and Crime Commissioners have the courage to put up taxes.  

With those caveats, however, this is clearly a much better deal for policing than most commentators (myself included) predicted.  There will be less pressure to reduce officer numbers. Neighbourhood policing, previously under real threat, is likely to remain an important component of the policing model in England and Wales.  This is good news.

However, the police service should not use this financial reprieve as an excuse to duck important reforms.  The reforms that the police have already planned should continue, with any savings reinvested in an improved and more effective service.

It would be a retrograde step for candidates in the 2016 PCC elections to start pledging (as I am certain many will) to ‘protect officer numbers’.  We still need to rebalance the police workforce.   We need more staff with the kind of digital skills required to tackle cybercrime.  We need more crime analysts to help deploy police resources more effectively.  Blanket commitments to maintain officer numbers will get in the way of important reforms.

The argument for inter-force collaboration and, indeed, force mergers does not go away. The new top sliced transformation fund is designed in part to facilitate collaboration, but the fact remains that a 43 force structure no longer makes sense in operational or financial terms.

The police still have to adapt to a changing world. Falling levels of traditional crime and the explosion in online crime, particularly fraud and hacking, means we need an entirely different kind of police service.  Many of the pressures the police experience from non-crime demand will not go away. Big cuts to local government funding and the wider criminal justice system mean we need to reorganise the public service frontline to deal with problems such as high reoffending rates, child safeguarding and rising levels of mental illness.

Before yesterday I thought policing faced an existential moment and I stand by that. While the service has now secured significant financial breathing space, it still needs to adapt to an increasingly complex world. 

Rick Muir is director of the Police Foundation