Thursday, 20 May 2010

Tebbit: The scandal of the 1922 Committee putsch

Norman Tebbit writes:

So we have entered the era of the Big Society, New Politics, consensus, decentralisation and power to the people. Everywhere, that is, except in the Conservative Party.

The 1922 Committee has a long and important history. Its rules have been clear. It is not for Ministers. The Prime Minister was not a member of the original 1922 Committee. Nor were other Ministers, or Whips. It was a forum for the backbenchers.

Mr Cameron did not like that arrangement. He was perfectly entitled to take the view that it should be changed. I think that he was wrong to do so, but then I have not been a Member of the Commons for nearly 20 years, and much has changed since that time. What has not changed, however, are the rules of natural justice.

For Mr Cameron to bounce the Parliamentary Party into a vote to change the rules to allow Minister and Whips (the payroll vote) to become voting members of the 1922 Committee is one thing. But to announce that he has unilaterally changed the rules to give them votes in an ballot to decide if they should have membership and votes in the 1922 is another.

I'd never heard of the 1922 committee until a couple of days ago, but following on from the plan to plump up the House of Lords, and the 55% rule, this move provides further evidence of Cameron's dictatorial instinct.

Let us hope he is a benevolent dictator ...

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