Posts Tagged ‘1922 committee’

How serious are the threats to David Cameron?

22/01/2013, 03:25:24 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Last weekend, the Sunday Times ran a fairly extraordinary piece speculating that the pin-striped vultures of the Tory backbenches were eyeing up David Cameron’s carcass:

“For the first time, discussions about ousting Cameron before 2015 appear to be spreading beyond the so-called “usual suspects” – a hardcore of about 20 backbenchers who are hostile to his leadership.”

Europe and gay marriage are cited as concerns. There is also talk of a “rebel reserve” of “about 55” who would write to the backbench 1922 committee chairman, Graham Brady, demanding Cameron quits if the polls look so desperate that a change of leader becomes “urgent.”

Of course it’s not unusual for prime ministers to develop a cabal of detractors. On the way up, most senior politicians rub enough people up the wrong way to do that; but to learn that Cameron now has a nucleus of twenty hostiles against him, with dozens of “conditional enemies” is still significant.

Most obviously it seems Cameron simply isn’t conservative enough for many of his party’s faith and flag crowd. While Europe remains a celice truer Conservatives choose to punish themselves with, it is Cameron’s personal advocacy of gay marriage which is said to be the focal point for much of the current grumbling; percolating up from his party’s grassroots and through to his MPs. To them, he is a typical metro-liberal wet.

On the other hand though, Cameron is a son of privilege who doesn’t really gel with those earthier, cash-toting arriviste Tories either, the ones who had to buy their own furniture. Remember when Michael Howard said he was a grammar school boy who would take no lessons from public school-educated Tony Blair? It’s not a boast many on the Tory frontbench could make now. Nevertheless representing smart, hard-working people who have made their own money is an important part of the post-war Conservative identity.


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Andrew Mitchell will go on Thursday

15/10/2012, 07:00:17 AM

That’s the consensus Uncut hears swirling around the ranks of senior Tories. Post-conference, the denouement of #gategate has acquired a new lethal inevitability. Hopes of a firebreak, with conference season giving space for the furore to subside, have been decisively dashed.

As members of parliament return to Westminster, Ministers and MPs who have fanned out over the weekend for media interviews are all reporting back the same message to the Tory whips: this problem is not going away.

These interviews were meant to have been an opportunity for the Tories to build on David Cameron’s speech and set the agenda before the start of the Autumn session. But, on every single occasion the questioning returned to Andrew Mitchell’s position.

It not only dragged the MPs back into territory that the Tories have been trying to escape, but also presents a uniquely difficult question to answer.

There’s no defending Mitchell’s conduct. His absence from Birmingham, despite being the Tories’ only Birmingham MP, was stark. The agreed line to take that he apologised and the police personnel involved have accepted the apology leaves too many unanswered questions:  what did he actually say? Why are the police federation calling for him to go? How long will this drag on?

The critical day is now Wednesday. PMQs will be dominated by Andrew Mitchell, who will then face the judgement of the Tories backbench 1922 committee later that day when it meets.


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Cameron u-turn on IPSA will push the Tory “fodder” over the edge

15/01/2011, 12:40:23 PM

As Ladbrokes slashes the odds of an early election to 3/1, Conservative MPs are about to explode.  A back bench revolt was suppressed just before Christmas when the frustrations of long-suffering MPs were aired about IPSA, the body tasked with paying parliamentary expenses, during an acrimonious meeting of the 1922 committee. It resulted in Downing Street briefing the media that the PM understood their worries, saying that the PM “recognised that (IPSA) has caused a lot of pain and difficulty.

Adam Afriyie, one of the few Conservative MP millionaires who had the gumption not to claim any expenses, in contrast to the PM and chancellor, received unchallenged support for a reform motion on 2nd December:

“That this House regrets the unnecessarily high costs and inadequacies of the systems introduced by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA); calls on the IPSA to introduce a simpler scheme of office expenses and Members’ allowances that cuts significantly the administrative costs, reduces the amount of time needed for administration by Members and their staff, does not disadvantage less well-off Members and those with family responsibilities, nor deter Members from seeking reimbursement of the costs of fulfilling their parliamentary duties; and resolves that if these objectives are not reflected in a new scheme set out by the IPSA in time for operation by 1 April 2011, the Leader of the House should make time available for the amendment of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 to do so.”

But after a spirited fightback from IPSA boss Sir Ian Kennedy and, crucially, support from the Sun’s lobby team led by Tom Newton Dunn, Uncut understands that the PM has now dropped his threat to IPSA, leaving Adam Afriyie and the cross-bench grouping of senior MPs who signed his reform motion swinging in the wind. Afriyie, and his colleagues in the ‘22 have not been informed of the change of plan. When it finally dawns, expect a volcanic reaction.

Cameron could normally rely on his long-suffering whips to soak up the punches from back benchers, described as “the fodder” by young Downing Street insiders. Yet all is not well within the within the inner sanctum.

Patrick McLoughlin, David Cameron’s loyal Chief Whip has been subject to a number of anonymous press briefings in recent weeks – thought to have come from ambitious colleagues in advance of the rumoured reshuffle. Older whips have been criticised for a heavy handed approach to the new MPs. Tracey Crouch, the Tory toffs’ token former council house tenant of choice, was allegedly told that her “career was over” after abstaining on the tuition fees vote. Such is Cameron’s distance from his “fodder” that one hapless Tory MP amused Labour colleagues recently when he said ‘”the trouble with Cameron is that he doesn’t understand ordinary people like us.”

McCloughlin is paying the cost of coalition angst. Eyebrows were recently raised when his coalition “partner” Alistair Carmichael was allocated four additional civil servants to help him manage his 57 MPs. Carmichael also negotiated a healthy remuneration package for his special adviser Ben Williams, allegedly worth £10K more than McCloughlin’s own special adviser Chris White – who has 306 MPs to keep in line. If McCloughlin carries the can, Sir George Young and Andrew Mitchell are both tipped to fill the steel toe capped shoes of the former Nottinghamshire miner.

David Cameron has already gone down in history as the first party leader who didn’t want to win a by-election. The defeat in Oldham, the as yet secret betrayal on IPSA reform and the undermining of his own chief whip leave the next few weeks looking difficult for the PM. Maybe that reshuffle is nearer than we think.

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