UK Politics

David Cameron says no post-Eastleigh lurch to the right for Tories

David Cameron
Image caption Mr Cameron said the government faced some dangerous challenges

David Cameron has insisted there will be no "lurch to the right" by the Conservatives following the party's defeat in the Eastleigh by-election.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister said he would "stick to the course" the government was on.

Meanwhile, the justice secretary has suggested a future Tory government could scrap the Human Rights Act.

Labour accused Mr Cameron of "political manoeuvring" and failing to tackle the big challenges facing the country.

The Conservatives finished third in Eastleigh, in Hampshire, on Thursday - behind the Liberal Democrats, who held the seat vacated by Chris Huhne, and the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

'Distinctive message'

In the article, Mr Cameron writes: "We are engaged in a battle for Britain's future. It is a battle to defeat some of the most dangerous challenges in our history.

"And it is a battle we will win only if we reject the cynicism, the political calculation and the easy ways out - and stick to the course we are on."

On Friday, Tory backbencher Colonel Bob Stewart said there was widespread dismay among the rank-and-file about the direction the party was taking, and warned the leadership could not afford to ignore their concerns.

Conservative party vice chairman Michael Fabricant said the party had struggled to present a distinctive message during the Eastleigh election, saying UKIP had managed to connect with traditional blue-collar Tory voters on issues such as crime and immigration in a way the Conservatives had not.

But David Cameron said the Conservatives were committed to the "common ground" on the cost of living, immigration and the NHS.

He added: "The battle for Britain's future will not be won in lurching to the right... it's not about being left wing or right wing - it's about being where the British people are."

'Popularity points'

Mr Cameron acknowledged the concerns of voters "impatient" for change, "for things to feel tangibly better" after what he said were "years of decline" under the Labour government.

He said: "In 30 years' time, I want people to be able to look back at this government and see that we paid down our debts, helped create millions of jobs, sorted out welfare, made our schools world-beating and built homes for a generation.

"Doing this kind of work might not earn you popularity points in by-elections, but it's what I'm in politics for."

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is quoted in the Sunday Telegraph as saying he would expect a future majority Conservative government to scrap the Human Rights Act, which the Lib Dems are committed to defending.

The act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into British law and was introduced under the last Labour government, would be abolished if the Conservatives won a majority at the next general election, he said.

"We cannot go on with a situation where people who are a threat to our national security, or who come to Britain and commit serious crimes, are able to cite their human rights when they are clearly wholly unconcerned for the human rights of others," Mr Grayling told the paper.

Labour's Vice-Chair Michael Dugher said: "This is just political manoeuvring trying to hide the fact he (David Cameron) is unable to tackle the big challenges facing the future of the country.

"After a disastrous result in the Tory target seat of Eastleigh, David Cameron is now desperately trying to claim that he stands on the political centre-ground. But after so many broken promises, this is once again just more of the same.

"David Cameron still doesn't get it. He is just playing politics whilst serving up more of the same failing and unfair policies"

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