Transcript of @beckmilligan's #wato intv with Eleanor Laing on #Eastleigh.
PLEASE CREDIT THE WORLD AT ONE, BBC RADIO 4
A: The fact is that people who are traditional Conservative supporters are not at this moment supporting the Conservative Party
Q: And why not? What do you think's happened?
A: Well loyalty is a two-way thing and the leadership of the Conservative Party asks for loyalty from our supporters but those supporters don't feel that they're getting loyalty back. The Prime Minister is doing a brilliant job on Europe, on immigration, on education, on benefits reform. He and his ministers are doing a terrific job, but something is missing. The leadership of the Party isn't tuning in to the hopes and fears of the vast majority of ordinary people out there in Britain today.
Q: I mean, why is that? I mean what is there? What is the gap, why can't they do it?
A: I think that most people have a lot of sympathy for David Cameron and George Osborne and the very difficult jobs that they're having to do with the economy and with Europe, for example. Those things are not going particularly well. But there is sympathy and understanding that in a mere three years after 13 years of disastrous Labour government, you can't expect them to get everything right immediately. So people have patience with that. But social change should come about by evolution not by diktat from the top of government.
Q: And is that what they feel? Do you think that's what ordinary Conservative voters feel?
A: Ordinary Conservative voters don't feel that this government is in tune with them, with their hopes and fears. Sometimes, you know, I will put it as strongly as saying that it's hurtful. It's hurtful to people who want to believe in a Conservative Party that represents them. In my own constituency, on the doorsteps in Eastleigh, and generally people that I talk to, do you know what, they actually feel hurt. They feel hurt and they feel left out. They're told that they're old-fashioned and they think that they don't matter and that what they stand for, and what they believe in, doesn't matter. Those people who for decades have put their faith in the Conservative Party. The only way to take forward those issues that people really care about is to have a truly Conservative government. And to do that the leadership of my Party has to tune in better to the people who want to support it - who want loyalty and who now feel rather left out.
Q: Sometimes after these kind of events people say it's just the 'Usual Suspects' who come forward and make these complaints. And in reality it's not what the party feel at large, especially maybe at Westminster. Are you one of the 'Usual Suspects'? And have you discussed this with other people? Do other MPs feel the same way as you do?
A: Well I'm certainly not a 'Usual Suspect'. I have been utterly loyal to the leadership of the Conservative Party all of my 16 years in Parliament. And I want to continue being loyal. But loyalty is a two-way thing. The leadership of the Party has to listen to the members of the Party in Parliament and out of Parliament as well as expecting them to listen to the leadership.
Q: Do many other MPs feel the same way as you do? Have they been, do you think they'll be reacting in the same way?
A: Well, inevitably when the fortunes of the Party are not as good as they ought to be then there is some disquiet. I'm afraid that there is a very large number of Members of Parliament on the Conservative benches now who come back from their constituencies every weekend in despair about the number of people who are resigning from the Party.