The reasonable Right as well as the 301 Group won yesterday's 1922 elections
By Tim Montgomerie
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Paul Goodman has already blogged some astute observations about the results of last night's 1922 elections. I also agree with The Spectator's James Forsyth that the high turnout (93.8%) means that the new '22 is very representative of the parliamentary party.
Most newspapers are interpreting the result as a big victory for the 301 Group and its slate of candidates but it would be wrong to see that real victory as a victory for uber-modernisers. The 301 Group's slate was actually quite limited in its ambition. It didn't, for example, seek to oust Graham Brady, John Whittingdale, Charles Walker or Brian Binley (who were all re-elected unopposed). It sought to produce a rebalancing of the committee and I think it succeeded. It certainly hasn't produced a patsy committee. As Douglas Carswell tweeted last night, "11 of 18 Tory MPs on 1922 committee voted for In / Out EU referendum" in last year's rebellion of the 81. The 301 Group failed in their bid to oust Bernard Jenkin, partly because he is very popular with colleagues and more significantly Nick de Bois defeated Charlie Elphicke as candidate for one of the two Secretaryship posts.
The biggest losers from last night were, I suggest, the more old-fashioned Right-wingers. Chris Chope, for example, last the Secretaryship vote and Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone were voted off the backbench business committee.
Nonetheless a good number of candidates that I would describe as on the modern Right of the party did prosper. They included Steve Baker, Nick de Bois, Robert Halfon, Priti Patel and Heather Wheeler.
A MORE MODERN RIGHT IS EMERGING
For me one of the most important developments in the Conservative Party isn't the tussle for supremacy between loyalist and critical backbenchers but the emergence of a Right that is more in tune with the age. Distinguishing features of this group include...
- A breadth of concerns (fuel tax and the NHS as well as Europe and immigration);
- They aren't anti-government/ anti-state contrarians;
- A tone that is in tune with our times. They hold very orthodox Tory views but are less shouty, speaking persuasively. They win people as well as arguments;
- They don't rush to College Green with their concerns about the Tory leadership but are more publicly loyal;
- They are fascinated with campaigning as much as policy. Many of the modern Right have had to fight long and hard to get into parliament. They are as interested in pavement politics as much as in manifesto politics. Rob Halfon's campaigning sub-committee of the '22 is one illustration of this.
9.30am: Graham Brady has attacked the unpleasant and factional electioneering before yesterday's voting.