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The 1922 Executive reaffirms that ministers would not be able to vote in internal elections if there is a Conservative Government

The Evening Standard's indefatigable Paul Waugh wrote recently about suggestions circulating in Westminster that - if there is a Conservative Government after the general election - the party leadership wanted the next chairman of the 1922 committee to be elected by the entire parliamentary party (rather than just the backbenchers, as has always been the case when the party is in government).

But any suggestion that ministers would be able to take part in 1922 committee elections was well and truly scotched at Wednesday night's meeting of the Executive of the 1922 Committee.

It was reaffirmed and minuted that if the party is in government after the general election, then the existing procedure will be followed, according to precedent, and only backbenchers would be able to take part in the contest.

"That effectively sets it in stone," reports a source.

With a very large new intake - potentially more than half the sum total of Tory MPs - it strikes me that there would be some value in holding more meetings than is traditional of the entire parliamentary party, bringing ministers and backbenchers together.

But it remains vital that the 1922 Committee continues to exist as a separate entity to ensure that the voice of backbenchers is heard in its own right.

I explained last month that the 1922 chairmanship was looking like being a contest between Graham Brady and Richard Ottaway. That election is likely to take place on the second Wednesday after the post-election Queen's Speech.

Jonathan Isaby


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