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Senior Tory backbenchers seek clarification over voting rights in 1922 Committee election

6.30pm update:

I am hearing that common sense and tradition has prevailed and that the Chief Whip has decreed that ministers will NOT be allowed to participate in the 1922 Committee elections. They will, however, be entitled to attend meetings - which no-one ever really had a complaint about. Good news.


Following last week's ballot of the Conservative parliamentary party about the future structure of the 1922 Committee, I learn that senior members of the outgoing '22 Executive are urgently seeking clarification from the Chief Whip as to who can take part in the elections for its officers.

Arrangements for the 1922 Committee elections are made by the Whips' Office, with nominations having been announced as opening at 12pm today (and closing at 12pm tomorrow) - but without any explanation of whether ministers will be eligible to stand, nominate and vote in the elections, and whether proxy votes are allowed (I gather they have traditionally not been allowed in '22 elections).

The reason for the continued confusion is that the wording of the ballot last week was incredibly vague.

The 118 MPs dissenting from David Cameron's plan agreed that "the 1922 Committee should retain its existing structures", whilst the successful proposition (backed by 168 MPs) was merely that "the 1922 Committee should change to encompass the whole of the parliamentary party".

As the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday, there are serious questions being asked in Parliament about the validity of the ballot, since it saw one body (the entire parliamentary party) seemingly changing the rules of a separate body (the Conservative backbenchers).

Graham Brady and Richard Ottaway remain the two candidates for the chairmanship of the 1922 Committee, with the latter having already announced that he will be proposed and seconded by two new MPs, Helen Grant and Stephen Phillips.

The pair will take part in a hustings for MPs tomorrow night with voting taking place on Wednesday afternoon.

Jonathan Isaby


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