By Paul Goodman
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By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.
Origins of the group
Cornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.
Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.
When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:
"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."
The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.
Friday, May 04, 2012 in Adam Holloway MP, Alan Duncan MP, Andrew Rosindell MP, Andrew Selous MP, Andrew Turner MP, Angela Watkinson MP, Baroness Thatcher, Bill Cash MP, Bob Spink MP, Brian Binley MP, Charles Walker MP, Charlie Elphicke MP, Christopher Chope MP, Christopher Fraser MP, Daniel Kawczynski MP, David Amess MP, David Burrowes MP, David Cameron MP, David Davies, David Davies MP, David Davis MP, David Jones MP, David Mundell MP, David Nuttall MP, David T C Davies MP, Desmond Swayne MP, Douglas Carswell MP, Edward Leigh MP, Fiona Bruce MP, George Osborne MP, Gerald Howarth MP, Graham Stuart MP, Greg Hands MP, Iain Duncan Smith MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, John Hayes MP, John Redwood MP, John Whittingdale MP, Julian Brazier MP, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Laurence Robertson MP, Lee Scott MP, Liam Fox MP, Mark Harper MP, Martin Vickers MP, Matthew Hancock MP, Mel Stride MP, Michael Howard MP, Nadine Dorries MP, Neil Carmichael MP, Nicola Blackwood MP, Nigel Adams MP, Owen Paterson MP, Peter Bone MP, Philip Hollobone MP, Priti Patel MP, Robert Goodwill MP, Robert Halfon MP, Sajid Javid MP, Sheryll Murray MP, Stephen Crabb, Steve Baker MP, Stewart Jackson MP, Thérèse Coffey MP, Tory MPs Groups | Permalink | Comments
By Matthew Barrett
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In my series profiling groups of Tory MPs, most groups I've looked at have been mostly or wholly composed of 2010 intake MPs. The next group is bit different, as it was founded more than 25 years ago. The No Turning Back group has a proud history of celebrating and promoting Thatcherism. How is the group doing now? In this profile, I'll be examining what No Turning Back, the backbench group for Thatcherites in Parliament, is doing now.
Origins of the group
No Turning Back was founded in 1985 to defend Mrs Thatcher's free-market policies. The 25 founding members included, amongst others, now-Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon, now-Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, and the late, great Eric Forth.
The name of the group comes from Mrs Thatcher's famous conference speech given in October 1980:
"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U” turn, I have only one thing to say. “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those who are not our friends."
There are about 100 members of the group, which is chaired by John Redwood, including "quite a lot" from the 2010 intake. Members include such big beasts as John Redwood, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Peter Lilley, Lord Forsyth, and Liam Fox. Current Conservative officeholders who are members of the group include the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith; David Cameron's PPS, Desmond Swayne; Nick Clegg's Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mark Harper; the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers; a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly; three government whips, Angela Watkinson, Mark Francois and Greg Hands; the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, Greg Knight; and the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, who was Mrs Thatcher's Political Secretary in the late 1980s.
Thursday, April 26, 2012 in Andrew Turner MP, Angela Watkinson MP, Baroness Thatcher, Bernard Jenkin MP, Brian Binley MP, Charles Walker MP, Christopher Chope MP, David Cameron MP, David Davis MP, Desmond Swayne MP, Edward Leigh MP, Francis Maude MP, Gerald Howarth MP, Greg Hands MP, Greg Knight MP, Iain Duncan Smith MP, John Baron MP, John Redwood MP, John Whittingdale MP, Jonathan Djanogly MP, Liam Fox MP, Lord Forsyth, Mark Francois MP, Mark Harper MP, Michael Fallon MP, Paul Goodman MP, Peter Lilley MP, Priti Patel MP, Theresa Villiers MP, Tory MPs Groups | Permalink | Comments
By Jonathan Isaby
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Later today I will provide a write-up of yesterday's debate in the Commons on the future of the House of Lords.
But one thing has immediately jumped off the page of Hansard at me which I thought I would share without further ado: During Conor Burns' speech, Labour MP Thomas Docherty intervened with the following nugget of information:
"Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that his noble Friend Lord Heseltine has not even made his maiden speech in the House of Lords. “Part-time” would not be a good adjective to describe him. Can the hon. Gentleman think of one?"
Burns replied as follows:
"I can think of many, and it is not often that I am accused of being on the same side as Lord Heseltine. I remember telling Lady Thatcher a couple of years ago that he had not made his maiden speech, having been in the Lords for nine years at the time. Her reply was, 'Well, look on the bright side, at least we haven’t had to listen to it'.”
"He says that he took his membership of the other place because he wanted the honour, but he did not want to participate. He has participated in fewer than 20 Divisions in the 10 years that he has been a Member of the other place. That was why I found it absolutely disgraceful that he came in the other night to vote against the referendum lock in the European Union Bill, which is going through the other place."
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