David Cameron has faced strong criticism from Conservative grandee Lord Tebbit in the aftermath of Andrew Mitchell's resignation as chief whip.
After the blow of finally losing Mr Mitchell having previously backed him to stay, the Prime Minister was said to have allowed "this dog of a coalition Government" to look incompetent.
Lord Tebbit's criticism came amid reports that Mr Mitchell decided to quit after younger Tory MPs from the 2010 intake made clear their hostility when parliament returned this week.
Writing in The Observer, Lord Tebbit - a Cabinet minister in Margaret Thatcher's government - said: "This dog of a coalition government has let itself be given a bad name and now anybody can beat it.
"It has let itself be called a government of unfeeling toffs. Past governments have had far more real Tory toffs: prime ministers Alec Douglas-Home and Harold Macmillan, or even in Thatcher's day, Whitelaw, Soames, Hailsham, Carrington, Gowrie, Joseph, Avon, Trenchard and plenty more, without incurring similar abuse."
He added: "The abiding sin of the government is not that some ministers are rich, but that it seems unable to manage its affairs competently."
Mr Mitchell finally fell on his sword on Friday after admitting that the row over his confrontation with Downing Street police made his position untenable.
After weeks of criticism and speculation over his future, Mr Mitchell said it was not fair to put his colleagues and family through such "damaging" stories any longer.
He insisted in a letter to the Prime Minister that he had not referred to an officer on the gate in Downing Street as either a "pleb" or a "moron" but acknowledged delivering, after being told he could not ride his bike through the main gates, the parting line: "I thought you guys were supposed to f****** help us."
He was swiftly replaced as chief whip by Sir George Young.