David Maddox: PM likely to change his Cabinet, but not his policies, despite anger on back-benches

THE question that will be troubling David Cameron this weekend, and in the days running up to Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech, is what, if anything, to do about the beating his party has just been handed.

From early yesterday, right-wingers on the Tory benches were pushing for a change of direction, primarily wanting rid of Lib Dem-leaning policies. There is no doubt many grass-roots supporters would like their Prime Minister to be a “real Conservative” again. Many “real” Tories stayed at home on Thursday, while others switched to Ukip – a move that has alarmed Tory Central Office.

The chances are those grass-roots Tories are going to be disappointed, not least because the Lib Dems, who lost more than a third of their seats, need something from the coalition to justify remaining the junior partner in an unpopular alliance. Certainly, neither party wants a snap general election.

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But politicians are aware that local elections are largely meaningless when it translates to Westminster elections. Just ask the now Foreign Secretary William Hague. He led the Tories to record gains in the 2000 council elections and was humiliated the following year in the general election. So, it is likely the top item of the Queen’s Speech will still be reform of the Lords and that the government will press ahead despite Tory opposition.

Also likely, however, is a reshuffle. Several Cabinet ministers appear to have been on borrowed time and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley could be first to the exit door over his handling of the NHS reforms. It could also be time to go for Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, whose departure would please right-wing back-benchers.

One person not going anywhere will be Labour leader Ed Miliband. The victory is not the platform needed to launch a general election victory, but it has guaranteed he will stay in his job. As for the London mayoral election, Labour has long been spinning that this was a personality contest, not a party political one, between Boris and Ken.

Miliband had been under threat – not any more. Labour now knows who its leader will be come 2015.