Yesterday, along with other Conservative MPs I attended a meeting where David Cameron informed us that a referendum of Conservative MPs was to be held about the constitution of the 1922 Committee. The proposal put to us was that all Conservative MPs, including all those on the Government payroll, would have voting membership of the Committee, which previously had been reserved for backbenchers only. The ballot opened very soon afterwards and continued this morning. 168 of us voted for the proposed change, while 118 voted against it. Must admit I found it a difficult decision, but after much careful thought, I decided to back the proposal. I received quite a bit of advice to vote otherwise.
What concerned me was that we were setting aside 88 years of history, and had very little time to hold discussions which might have helped new parliamentarians come to a considered conclusion. So what to do. Over recent months, I've developed a huge respect for David Cameron, and in the end I decided to give him my support. He wants us to go forward during what may be a very turbulent period in British politic history as 'one party' encompassing the whole parliamentary party - not as two separate groups, backbenchers and frontbenchers. OK, I might feel uncertain when setting aside such a long standing tradition, but I'm pleased that the Prime Minister had his way.
So that's three big meetings of the Parliamentary Party in a matter of days. Firstly, we were consulted on the ongoing discussions with the Liberal Democrats, which led up to a coalition. Secondly, we were all called to meet the Prime Minister soon after he had returned from the Palace after accepting the Queen's invitation to form a Government. And thirdly there was last night's meeting which fundamentally changed the backbenchers 'committee' which had existed for 88 years. And I've only been an MP for two weeks. Its mentally exhausting. Not since the 1940s/50s have new parliamentarians been involved in such meetings.