Dissenting Tories pushed out of backbench committee

MPs broadly sympathetic to the leadership are elected to influential 1922 committee.

If there is one thing the Conservative Party has in ample supply at the moment, it is internal tension about the direction of travel. This was reflected in elections for the influential 1922 committee of backbench MPs last night.

The 1922 committee is seen as a barometer of backbench opinion, and gives MPs a forum to connect with the leadership. It has long been a thorn in the side of David Cameron, who caused outrage early in his premiership by attempting to reform the committee so that ministers could become full members. He eventually backed down on this move, which Gary Gibbon described as akin to "the management demanding seats on the union negotiating team".

However, it looks as if the Prime Minister might have managed to neutralise the committee, which is frequently critical of the leadership and has largely represented the party’s Eurosceptic, traditional right wing, frustrated with the compromise of coalition.

After elections for the committee last night, several long serving MPs who are critical of the coalition and Cameron’s modernising agenda were voted off, including Peter Bone and Christopher Chope. In their place, candidates from the “301” group of MPs – so called because it represents the number of MPs needed for an overall majority at the next election – were elected. These MPs, many of whom are from the 2010 intake, are broadly supportive of the leadership and believe that the 1922 committee should be modernised.

So what does this mean? Firstly, while there will be cause for celebration in both Downing Street and the Treasury, it is perhaps needless to say that this is unlikely to be the end for internal strife. Over at ConservativeHome, Paul Goodman says he is “not altogether persuaded” that allies of Cameron and George Osborne didn’t interfere in the elections, warns:

Some of those who weren't re-elected - or elected at all - may feel that they now have nothing to lose in criticising the government very strongly indeed.

As James Forsyth points out at the Spectator, this election had a 93.8 per cent turnout, making it very representative of the parliamentary party. However, no single group was victorious - some of the "old guard" hung onto their places. This says something about the state of the Tory party and the direction its members want it to go. A Guardian editorial today explains the dilemma thus:

The question that really divides the party is whether in the face of austerity it returns to an enhanced core-vote strategy of shoring up the right flank from Ukip by focusing on the traditional crime, immigration and Europe agenda, or whether to keep faith, despite the vastly altered circumstances, in Cameron's modernising programme and anchor the party to the centre-right.

As this election shows, the battle is very much yet to be won.
 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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The Telegraph’s bizarre list of 100 reasons to be happy about Brexit

“Old-fashioned light bulbs”, “crooked cucumbers”, and “new vocabulary”.

As the economy teeters on the verge of oblivion, and the Prime Minister grapples with steering the UK around a black hole of political turmoil, the Telegraph is making the best of a bad situation.

The paper has posted a video labelled “100 reasons to embrace Brexit”. Obviously the precise number is “zero”, but that didn’t stop it filling the blanks with some rather bizarre reasons, floating before the viewer to an inevitable Jerusalem soundtrack:

Cheap tennis balls

At last. Tennis balls are no longer reserved for the gilded eurocrat elite.

Keep paper licences

I can’t trust it unless I can get it wet so it disintegrates, or I can throw it in the bin by mistake, or lose it when I’m clearing out my filing cabinet. It’s only authentic that way.

New hangover cures

What?

Stronger vacuums

An end to the miserable years of desperately trying to hoover up dust by inhaling close to the carpet.

Old-fashioned light bulbs

I like my electricals filled with mercury and coated in lead paint, ideally.

No more EU elections

Because the democratic aspect of the European Union was something we never obsessed over in the run-up to the referendum.

End working time directive

At last, I don’t even have to go to the trouble of opting out of over-working! I will automatically be exploited!

Drop green targets

Most people don’t have time to worry about the future of our planet. Some don’t even know where their next tennis ball will come from.

No more wind farms

Renewable energy sources, infrastructure and investment – what a bore.

Blue passports

I like my personal identification how I like my rinse.

UK passport lane

Oh good, an unadulterated queue of British tourists. Just mind the vomit, beer spillage and flakes of sunburnt skin while you wait.

No fridge red tape

Free the fridge!

Pounds and ounces

Units of measurement are definitely top of voters’ priorities. Way above the economy, health service, and even a smidgen higher than equality of tennis ball access.

Straight bananas

Wait, what kind of bananas do Brexiteers want? Didn’t they want to protect bendy ones? Either way, this is as persistent a myth as the slapstick banana skin trope.

Crooked cucumbers

I don’t understand.

Small kiwi fruits

Fair enough. They were getting a bit above their station, weren’t they.

No EU flags in UK

They are a disgusting colour and design. An eyesore everywhere you look…in the uh zero places that fly them here.

Kent champagne

To celebrate Ukip cleaning up the east coast, right?

No olive oil bans

Finally, we can put our reliable, Mediterranean weather and multiple olive groves to proper use.

No clinical trials red tape

What is there to regulate?

No Turkey EU worries

True, we don’t have to worry. Because there is NO WAY AND NEVER WAS.

No kettle restrictions

Free the kettle! All kitchen appliances’ lives matter!

Less EU X-factor

What is this?

Ditto with BGT

I really don’t get this.

New vocabulary

Mainly racist slurs, right?

Keep our UN seat

Until that in/out UN referendum, of course.

No EU human rights laws

Yeah, got a bit fed up with my human rights tbh.

Herbal remedy boost

At last, a chance to be treated with medicine that doesn’t work.

Others will follow [picture of dominos]

Hooray! The economic collapse of countries surrounding us upon whose trade and labour we rely, one by one!

Better English team

Ah, because we can replace them with more qualified players under an Australian-style points-based system, you mean?

High-powered hairdryers

An end to the miserable years of desperately trying to dry my hair by yawning on it.

She would’ve wanted it [picture of Margaret Thatcher]

Well, I’m convinced.

I'm a mole, innit.