Take for example the forced academies programme. Many Conservatives were quite happy with the choice argument and with letting a school decide that it wanted to become an academy. Most of these people were also comfortable with the idea that a school that was failing should be forced to change radically and an academy might just help. It is another thing altogether for a Conservative government to force schools to get rid of parent governors, for it to remove local elected control over education and for it to impose a top down re-organisation which requires a huge investment of time of senior education staff on a bureaucratic change of governance. The many Conservative local councillors who think they run a very good local education authority are not best pleased. They have woken up to discover that their own party has decided centrally that they must be so very bad at their jobs that they have to be replaced by a series of different academy chains operating in the locality without any obvious way that parents can exercise control over them. They are also not impressed to discover unelected School Commissioners on staggeringly high salaries making decisions that their local officers used to make under local democratic control. Not surprisingly they are telling Cameron in no uncertain terms that he has got this one wrong.
The same is true of planning. Most Conservatives like the idea of a nation of home owners. That does not mean that they favour building large numbers of new homes on the green belt in the nice leafy suburbs near them. The National Policy and Planning Framework got passed in the last Parliament on a wave of enthusiasm for making things simple and getting rid of planning bureaucracy. The reality is now starting to hit home that stripping out effective planning controls leaves localities at the mercy of some very unpleasant developers. Local communities can no longer easily insist that building takes place in appropriate brown field locations. They also cannot easily make sure that what is built will be small one bedroom homes that could be bought by young people on salaries that they might reasonably aspire to. Instead they have to watch as yet more three and four bedroom executive properties are dumped onto green land that is valued by the local community. This sort of thing doesn't go down well in the Shires. The Green Belt has a lot of very blue supporters who have helped protect it for 60 years.
When it comes to health Cameron's supporters are also getting very uneasy. It is one thing to agree at a party conference that the health service needs a radical shake up and an increased application of market forces. It is another thing entirely trying to explain to a constituent why they can't get an appointment with their GP without waiting a fortnight. Or why they can no longer be confident that their GP's opinion represents what is best for them as a patient rather than what they have been pressured to recommend in order to cut the costs of the very profitable small business that their surgery has now become. It is also quite hard explaining why the nice young doctor who looked after the person at the local hospital has just moved to New Zealand or is out on the streets holding a banner instead of treating patients. Many Conservatives may place the whole of the blame for this on the last Labour administration and those well know Trotskyist militants the junior doctors. A lot won't. They will want to know why 6 years in the problems seem to be increasing rather than getting resolved.
Then there are the loyal local councillors who turn up to Party Conference and applaud enthusiastically all the speeches about ending top down re-organisations. Not all of them are over-enamoured about discovering that this means their own local council has been cut by 40% and is being told that the best way for it to get its hands on some more money is to accept the imposition of an elected mayor. Most of them have enough experience to know that the money on offer is not new cash but simply recycled money that used to come into the community from one government department and might now come in to the mayor's office if the local councillors don't mind giving up their authority and subjecting themselves to an unnecessary re-organisation.
So there is a lot of discontent in the ranks. Then, of course, there is the small issue of the Conservatives who are in one way or another cross about the referendum. Many in the business community have tended to support the Conservatives because they see it as the natural party of enterprise and the one that they can "trust to run the economy". A lot of these supporters are very worried that the government has put their business environment at risk by taking so very long to start speaking out about how many of the UK's vital interests are wrapped up in staying in Europe.
There is therefore a whole camp of Conservatives on the left and centre of the party who are very worried about the direction the government has taken since it was able to ditch its coalition partners. Indeed it is beginning to look more and more as if what the Liberal Democrats have said all along was true. They stopped the government from doing some really stupid things and now they are free to do them without anyone close to the decision making having the nerve to say: "Hang on a minute this can't possibly work in practice - it is just ideological nonsense."
Leave aside for a minute the fact that it was the Lib Dems entering a coalition they had never trailed with voters that allowed Cameron to govern in the first place. Instead focus on what the brand of Conservatives who are discontented already with the lurch to the right are going to do if UKIP wins the referendum and the party moves even further to the right to try and fight UKIP off. Would a Conservative party preparing for a radical right future outside of the EU provide an acceptable political home for such folk? What are these folks going to do if it turns out that the government they have supported hasn't fixed the economy after all and starts to talk about imposing yet another round of cuts?
Many people have commented that if the out campaign loses that there is a real risk of the Conservative Party splitting because the out folk won't be content to shut up and get back in their box and wouldn't want to follow a leader who had campaigned for in. Much the same question has needs to be asked about the other wing of the party. How many of them would feel comfortable in the kind of Conservative party that would be led by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Rees-Mogg?
We are about to enter into some very uncertain times and the old truth that Conservatives always mend their splits in time to win elections may very well not apply to the ideologically driven generation of the party. The era of two large political parties which could rely on a bedrock of loyal support through thick and thin has already largely gone for the Labour party. It may not be so very long before it also goes for the Conservatives.