In August 2009, Alan Duncan angered his leader with comments on MPs’ expenses, suggesting that members were “treated like shit” and forced to live “on rations”. Despite his demotion from shadow leader of the Commons to shadow prisons minister, he remains one of the most popular members of the party, especially among those who see internal reform as critical to the Tories’ success.
Duncan is considered one of the Conservatives’ great modernisers – which may lead to tensions with traditionalists, especially over justice policy. In January this year, he created divisions by opposing Cameron’s proposal to re-establish prison boats to help ease overcrowding in jails and end Labour’s early-release scheme. Further dissent from this impressive and candid politician may threaten Cameron’s ability to lead a unified party.