By Tim Montgomerie
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There are signs that the EU debate has influenced the end-October ratings for the Cabinet. William Hague is sharply down with nearly a quarter of members now dissatisfied with his performance. Nick Clegg, who has been publicly intolerant of Tory Eurosceptics, loses his net positive rating for the first time. The biggest loser though is Patrick McLoughlin. The Chief Whip is in negative territory for the first time ever. 44% disapprove of his performance and only 34% approve. It's probably unfair, however, that he should be blamed for last week's fiasco. All of my sources – except the loyal Mr McLoughlin himself – say the three line whip was a policy made in Numbers 10 and 11.
Ken Clarke's ratings also fall again and Theresa May's ratings are up. Members appear in little doubt that the Home Secretary was closer to the right human rights policy during the party conference cat flap.
Philip Hammond gets a boost in ratings. Before he became Defence Secretary 24% of members were dissatisfied with his performance. Now he's free of the unpopular HS2 policy his dissatisfaction number is more than halved to 11%. This does suggest that members are rating portfolio as well as person. That has to be a big part of the explanation for Andrew Mitchell's poor ratings.
I remain surprised at the resilience of the Chancellor's rating. Despite his controversial support for fiscal union and a rather toothless growth agenda 79% of members are satisfied with him.
CONSERVATIVEHOME POLL OF 1,971 TORY MEMBERS, 28TH, 29TH October 2011.