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
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