David Cameron may be just another progressive as are the majority of the "inner circle" and quite possibly a substantial number of current Tory MPs, but the fact remains that if Cameron is to win the next election he needs another 150 or so new Tory MPs - and this suggests that there may be life in the old party yet.
David Cameron will head a party dominated by MPs more socially conservative and less concerned with the environment than their leader, an analysis of Conservative parliamentary candidates suggests.
It seems the majority of Tory candidates who are likely to become new, first time MPs are socially conservative - unlike their leader. This on its own is not significant, but when you add on this ....
Mr Cameron has told close colleagues that he believes he is on course to win 140 new Tory MPs after the next election, The Times has been told. While such a net gain would give Mr Cameron an overall majority of about 15 ....
... it becomes very significant indeed. A majority of fifteen is a slim one indeed - and such a slim majority means that Cameron will not be able to be dismissive of or risk alienating social conservatives within his own party. With potentially more than a hundred new socially conservative MPs that majority will need looking after. Yes, he could rely on support from Labour and Lib Dem MPs to force through issues which socially conservative Conservative MPs object to - and may vote against - but that risks creating splits in the party which those other parties and the media will seize on with glee.
So, by the sounds of things, Cameron is going to have to do some pretty fancy dancing on the head of a pin to keep everyone on board if he's going to push the progressive side through or risk seeing the party split into factional divisions.
To be honest, it could go either way - the Conservative Party under Cameron may be forced by the makeup of its Parliamentary Party to revert to being more socially conservative or it could become riven with splits which will only hasten the end of the party. It might not happen at all I suppose - in which case either Cameron is a more skillful politician than I've given him credit for or The Times has severely overestimated the social conservatism of these prospective new Tory MPs.
And, of course, it could be that the events of the times overtake any agenda Cameron may have. I have to admit that I think this is far more likely than any of the above and a Tory administration will find themselves in the position of being an almost entirely reactive government forced to implement a sequence of emergency measures to try and stave off the impending economic collapse of our nation.
Only time will tell, I guess - but all in all it just confirms my opinion that a Cameron led Conservative win at the next election will result in Dave becoming the next Ted Heath rather than the next Thatcher - lurching from one crisis to the next while his party dissolves around him and the nation crumbles towards oblivion followed by a long long time in the political wilderness.