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Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
Tory voters 'baffled by Cameron'
Ann Winterton
Lady Winterton said 'grey haired' voters should be consulted
Traditional Conservative voters have been "baffled" by leader David Cameron's policies, a former frontbencher has said.

MP Ann Winterton said supporters felt "concerned that some of the issues that they feel very concerned about are being swept to one side".

She said the recent row about Tories abandoning support for grammar schools was an issue that "confused" voters.

The "young" Mr Cameron, 41, would benefit from "experience", she added.

Mr Cameron reshuffled his shadow cabinet on Monday, moving shadow education secretary David Willetts to be shadow universities spokesman after Prime Minister Gordon Brown split the education department in two.

David Cameron is young, by parliamentary standards and many of those advising him are very young
Ann Winterton

The shadow schools brief was given to Michael Gove, one of three new cabinet members who entered Parliament in the 2005 election.

Mr Cameron has faced a grassroots rebellion over his decision to ditch the Tories' traditional support for grammar schools and academic selection.

Lady Winterton, 66, said: "As a former grammar school girl I have always believed in diversity and selection in education and nothing that has been said by the leadership recently has changed my view.

"There has been such a great outpouring of grief against it by people in the country and certainly from grassroots supporters and people who work for the party."

Speaking to the Parliamentary Monitor magazine, she said: "Some of David Cameron's attempts to shift the Conservatives' direction have left much of the party's traditional support baffled.

Grey-haired voters

"People are willing to give him more time to establish what the policies will be at the time of the next general election but I am very concerned about the leadership of the party, and I don't just mean David Cameron."

Lady Winterton, an MP for 24 years, said the leadership needed to realise that "those with grey hair" would be the largest group of people voting at the next general election and called for greater consultation with them.

"It is vital that they are not neglected as the policies are formulated."

She added: "David Cameron is young, by parliamentary standards and many of those advising him are very young.

"I think that there is a learning curve and experience is a great teacher."

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