By Matthew Barrett
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The 301 group is perhaps the most active and important group of backbench Tory MPs. Tim Montgomerie reported last week that three MPs - Charlie Elphicke, George Hollingbery and Priti Patel - want to organise a candidate to be elected to the 1922 Committee's executive who will give the '22 a focus on policy and campaigning. The Spectator's James Forsyth blogged that "The vote for their candidate, and his opponent, will give us the best idea yet of where the backbenches are at the moment politically. Indeed, I expect that the machinery of the 301 group, the most pro-Cameron of all the backbench groups, will be thrown behind the Elphicke-Hollingbery-Patel slate."
To organise or endorse candidates for the '22 is certainly the most power a backbench group has yet wielded in this Parliament. In this profile, I'll be looking at the origins, members, aims and plans of the group to get a sense of what the group wants to campaign for.
Origins of the group
The 301 was first organised by Kris Hopkins (Keighley), a former soldier and leader of Bradford Council, and Jessica Lee (Erewash), a former barrister, and now Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The group began with small meetings of a handful of MPs who were "concerned that the narrative in Parliament was not representative of the conversation" that MPs had had with the electorate while campaigning during the 2010 general election, and also dissatisfied with the fact that the mechanisms of debate amongst backbenchers, and between the back and front benches, were not conducive to trying to correct that narrative. Each of those attending brought a friend, and so on, until after three meetings the group reached 60 members.
Friday, April 20, 2012 in Alec Shelbrooke MP, Alok Sharma, Amber Rudd MP, Andrew Jones MP, Andrew Selous MP, Angie Bray MP, Bob Blackman MP, Charlie Elphicke MP, Chris Kelly MP, Claire Perry MP, Damian Collins MP, Damian Hinds MP, Daniel Poulter MP, Dominic Grieve, Dominic Grieve MP, Gavin Barwell MP, George Hollingbery MP, Graham Brady MP, Graham Evans MP, Heather Wheeler MP, Iain Stewart MP, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, James Morris MP, Jeremy Lefroy MP, Jessica Lee MP, John Howell MP, Karl McCartney MP, Kris Hopkins MP, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Laura Sandys MP, Lee Scott MP, Marcus Jones MP, Margot James MP, Matthew Hancock MP, Michael Gove MP, Nick Boles, Nick Boles MP, Nicky Morgan MP, Oliver Colvile MP, Paul Maynard MP, Paul Uppal MP, Peter Aldous MP, Priti Patel MP, Robert Buckland MP, Robert Halfon MP, Robert Syms MP, Rory Stewart MP, Sarah Newton MP, Simon Kirby MP, Sir Michael Spicer MP, Steve Brine MP, Tory MPs Groups | Permalink | Comments
By Matthew Barrett
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In a statement to the House on North Africa and the Middle East this afternoon, William Hague announced the government's intention to abstain on the United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. The Foreign Secretary said:
"Mr Speaker, the events in the Arab Spring and mounting concern over Iran's nuclear programme do not detract from the urgent need to make progress on the Middle East peace process. I repeat our calls for negotiations on a two-state solution without delay and without pre-conditions, based on the timetable set out in the Quartet statement of the 23rd of September. ... The UK judges that the Palestinian Authority largely fulfils criteria for UN membership, including statehood as far as the reality of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories allows, but its ability to function effectively as a State would be impeded by that situation. A negotiated end to the occupation is the best way to allow Palestinian aspirations to be met in reality and on the ground. ... We will not vote against the application because of the progress the Palestinian leadership has made towards meeting the criteria. But nor can we vote for it while our primary objective remains a return to negotiations through the Quartet process and the success of those negotiations. For these reasons in common with France and in consultation with our European partners, the United Kingdom will abstain on any vote on full Palestinian membership of the UN."
by Paul Goodman
It's worth keeping an eye on the progress of the NAME bill - the measure that paves the way for a referendum on AV and a reduction in the number of Commons seats.
On Tuesday evening, Bernard Jenkin argued that the May 5 poll date should be moved - because some parts of the country are voting on that day while others aren't.
He said -
"The real reason for avoiding the combination of polls with referendums is fairness. Whatever the merits of combining referendums with elections throughout the referendum constituency, all voters should at least be treated the same. It is obvious from the date on the table at the moment that voters are being treated differently in different parts of the country."
He also attacked the Electoral Commission's volte-face on the matter -
"The quality of the commission's consultation and research has been lacking, which probably reflects the fact that most of its people have changed since 1992. However, the fundamental point about the paper is that it does not address substantively any of the arguments advanced in 2002 in favour of separate polls."
Edward Leigh, Julian Lewis, Eleanor Laing and Nick Boles also spoke from the backbenches during the debate, and the following Conservative MPs voted against the Government:
Earlier this year, this vote, long-expected, was mooted to mark substantial number of Conservative MPs voting against the Government.
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