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Benefits and immigration: the Tories subverting the coalition

So much for the idea that it would be the rebels among theLib Dem backbenchers who would pull the magic carpet from under the feet of thecoalition.

Expressions of dissent in recent weeks suggest that DavidCameron would do well to look at the fellow travellers from his own party. 

Boris Johnson is one who appears less than satisfied. Amongthe London mayor’s gripes is the cuts to housing benefit, which he is opposing and David Cameron is championing.

And Boris is not alone in the blue corner. According to Channel 4, about adozen London Tory MPs met in Westminster last week to air their grievances.

Meanwhile, justice secretary Kenneth Clarke has been lookingdecidedly liberal, or Liberal, with his proposals on prison sentencing reform,which have been poorly received among Conservatives with more, er, traditionalviews.

Then this week, David Cameron’s speechwriter in the generalelection campaign, Ian Birrell, used London’s Evening Standard to criticise thegovernment’s proposed immigration cap. It is “daft”, he wrote.

Mayor Johnson has already crossed swords with mainstreamTory thinking on this, and has even called for an amnesty for people who haveoverstayed their visas.

Six months into the coalition, that magic carpet ride hashit turbulence. But it is not the doing of the Lib Dems.

The enemy within? Let’s wait and see. 

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