The Tories have taken a lot of flak from those on who believe they over-played their hand on Northern Rock. On a day when the Tories might have expected support, many of their usual cheerleaders turned on them instead. The Daily Mail's Ben Brogan judged that:
'In fact the only thing that's getting folk along the Burma Road excited is the poor judgement of the Tories. The consensus is that Dave's call for Brown to sack Darling was misjudged, and that George Osborne over-egged things by claiming we've gone back to the 70s.'
Over at The Torygraph, Iain Martin's verdict was that Cameron and Osborne were forced into a miscalculation because of fear of their own party. A 'Cameroon insider' informed him that supporting the government policy on Northern Rock would have led to:
'An instant Tory split and rebellion in Commons votes, with many of the party's backbenchers and even some members of the shadow cabinet objecting that the Tory party should be against nationalisation at all costs. John Redwood would have been furious and far from alone.'
So there you have it. Cameron is afraid, just like the rest of us, of the old Tory masses braying behind him. For all his bravado, Cameron knows just how thin his support is among the party.
In fact it is easy to forget that before Brown's botched election, many commentators were openly speculating that Cameron could be gone by Christmas. Andrew Neil even went so far as to state that the Tories could be politically dead for a generation.
Now in reality that never happened. However, the same tensions still lurk within the party's backbenches. Like Blair and Labour in the nineties, a large minority of Conservatives have never much liked their leader. He has been tolerated, such as he has, because the public seem to prefer him to past Tory leaders.
As long as Cameron bashes Gordon at PMQs and hints at tax cuts, the Tories will keep their swords in their sheaths. But if he ever dares to move beyond platitudes onto genuinely progressive policies, Redwood and the rest of them will be onto him in a flash.