by Ray Fleming

“ Will the real David Cameron please stand up?” asked Tim Montgomerie yesterday; he is editor of the Conservative Home website which aims to speak to and for the party's constituency grass roots. In an astonishingly critical article (“Forty MPs actively dislike, even hate Mr Cameron. Forty to sixty no longer see him as a winner”) Montgomerie called on him to stop being a PR man at the mercy of events and instead take charge of them.

Also yesterday it emerged that the government plans to push through the highly controversial award of the West Coast railway franchise by which Richard Branson's Virgin operation will lose a service it has been running satisfactorily since 1997 to First Group which bid 0.7bn pounds more for the next decade than Virgin. Mr Branson argues that the First Group proposals are similar to those which led to two franchises being handed back on the East Coast route because in practice the bids were financially unrealisable. He asks the prime minister to appoint a brief inquiry to vet the validity of the First Group bid. But the Transport Minister Justine Greening is closing the deal over a Bank Holiday weekend and before Parliament returns to ask questions later this week. I have not seen a single endorsement of Greening's decision by expert opinion, the media, or public opinion in polls. Mr Cameron should intervene, very quickly.