Party season in the Westminster Village and amongst the seasonal bonhomie is a sense of uneasiness amongst Conservative MPs. The new generation in particular are looking for direction from Downing Street and feel they are being met by silence. Even the Whips agree, with one telling me that they feel isolated in trying to push through legislation and keep up morale. Another drew comparisons to the army, suggesting that they (the Whips) are the senior NCOs who can cajole and harry their troops into action but they need the senior officers to set the strategy.
Back in October I wrote after Conservative conference about the unhappiness of the new MPs, sadly it seems that this remains for many. I quoted one MP as saying, 'we don't know what is going on, I find out what the Government is doing from the papers. There is no communication from the top. It's amazing, once you get into the Palace [of Westminster] you feel completely cut off.'
Having a robust, coherent set of messages are essential to campaigning but also to ongoing communications for any organisation. It seems that, while Downing Street and Ministers are clear in what they are saying, backbench MPs are not. This is dangerous. As the cuts start to bite it will be at a local level that criticisms are made. Campaigns about closures of services will be from the grassroots up and will target, in the first instance, constituency MPs.
Arguments and votes may be won in Parliament but, if MPs aren't given the basic communication tools to win arguments in the country, it will be a very uncomfortable five years for many.