Cameron Vows To Stay The Course

David Cameron has said there will be no "lurch to the right" by the Conservatives in the wake of the party's drubbing in the Eastleigh by-election.

The British Prime Minister insisted he would "stick to the course we are on" despite seeing the Tories beaten into third place by the Liberal Democrats and UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Mr Cameron has come under pressure by some in his own party to offset the rise of UKIP by shifting toward the right, especially on issues of Europe and immigration.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the Prime Minister said he fully understood the concerns of voters impatient for change.

"I know who these people are. They are people who feel that Britain, this great country we love, was going downhill for years under Labour and is not being fixed fast enough by the Government I lead," he wrote.

"If they were concerned about welfare, they were accused of not caring. If they were worried about out-of-control immigration, they were called racist. If they wanted to talk about Britain being great again, they were made to feel nostalgic and old-fashioned.

"These people - hard-working, decent, patriotic people - are who the Conservative Party has always been for. We are on the side of those who want to work hard and get on in life.

"But the battle for Britain's future will not be won in lurching to the right, nor by some cynical attempt to calculate the middle distance between your political opponents and then planting yourself somewhere between them."

He called this "lowest common denominator politics", citing instead the "common ground" of politics invoked by Margaret Thatcher's ideological mentor Keith Joseph.

However, in an apparent move to appeal to voters who abandoned the Conservatives for UKIP, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling indicated the Tories would abolish the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in British law, if they won the next general election.

The move will be welcomed by Tory MPs frustrated by controversial rulings by the Strasbourg-based court, including blocking the deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada and ruling that prisoners must be given the vote.

But it threatens to exacerbate tensions within the coalition, since the Liberal Democrats are committed to defending the Human Rights Act.

"We cannot go on with a situation where people who are a threat to our national security, or who come to Britain and commit serious crimes, are able to cite their human rights when they are clearly wholly unconcerned for the human rights of others," Mr Grayling told the Sunday Telegraph.

"We need a dramatically curtailed role for the European Court of Human Rights in the UK."

Labour accused Mr Cameron of being a weak leader who was caving in to the Tory right over the Human Rights Act.

"It's clear David Cameron's response to his disastrous result in Eastleigh is a big lurch to the right," a spokesman said.