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The Right-Wing Backbench Push To End The Coalition

Last Updated: Friday, June 27th, 2014

A week ago today, I wrote a story on ConservativeHome revealing that senior figures in the 1922 Committee, the body that represents backbench Tory MPs, were considering whether to debate if David Cameron should bring the Coalition to an end – and if so, when.

I added that the executive committee of the ’22 had discussed the options, and that Graham Brady, its Chairman, has made no secret of his views – telling the site in an interview last year that “my own view, which is a private view for which I claim no special status, has always been that we should have a planned separation before the general election, and that that would help to avoid a period of increasingly rancorous relations within the coalition”.

Two questions follow from this manoeuvring.  The first is: in what form might such a debate take place?  The second is: when – if at all?

We followed up my original story this week by examining that first question.  The ’22 meets each week on Wednesday afternoons.  Its sessions are not always well attended.  Anyone can raise any matter during one: the question of whether and how the Coalition might break up before next May’s election could thus have been raised already.  Indeed, it almost has been.  I understand that this nearly happened the week before my original piece.

However, David Cameron was due to address the committee on that occasion, and it was felt that it would be inappropriate to raise the matter in his presence – at this juncture, anyway.

If it is eventually raised in a poorly attended weekly meeting it might well die there.  The ’22 Executive could, however, decide to call a special meeting of the committee.  Such a gathering would be likely to be better attended.  The Committee will therefore have to decide at some point which route it will take – if either.  This will cast light on whether it wants to be more helpful to Cameron or his critics – since the move to debate the issue originates from some of them.

It’s clear that Cameron doesn’t want to end the Coalition early. And it’s also clear that those critics do.  Timing, however, is not on the latter’s side.

There are four options – to debate the matter this summer, in September (when the Commons returns briefly), later, or not at all.  It is getting late in the day for a discussion before the summer recess.  There is talk of holding it in the autumn.  But Downing Street would urge the ’22 Executive not to make waves in the days before Scotland votes on independence on September 18.  Discussion could then be put off until after the Party Conference season.

But if it hasn’t happened by then, it may not happen at all.  Cameron will look to keep the Coalition together while differentiating his Party from it during the run-up to next May.  The ’22 Executive looks to play a crucial part in determining whether he gets his way.

By Paul Goodman

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK ON CONSERVATIVEHOME

Paul Goodman: The atom bomb option of all women shortlists
“My own view is that floating all-women shortlists is a bit like acquiring the atom bomb.  In other words, there is a case for saying that you might use it, but none for actually doing so. For Downing Street or CCHQ or both to seek to impose all-women shortlists would be the equivalent of firing one of those bombs at Russia during the Cold War: for Russia, in this case, read Conservative MPs and the voluntary party.  The Party would swiftly become the equivalent of a wasteland.  The leadership would do better to take up some of the ideas floated by Anne Jenkin and Brooks Newmark – such as more open primaries (which are not to be confused with caucus meetings), better preparation of local Associations, and wider use of women Ministers.” Read more: http://bit.ly/ToxisX

Christopher Howarth: How Juncker’s appointment could lead to Britain’s exit
“Cameron could say that if the EU continues in the manner of Juncker’s appointment he will have no choice but to advocate an Out vote. This would be interpreted as a threat, and be greeted by a wall of hostility in Brussels – but it would have the benefit of being true. It is not an idle threat. Cameron’s plan to base his referendum on the potential for EU reform was the right one, and one from which he cannot back down. Nor can he back the UK’s membership come what may. If he tried to pull the Harold Wilson trick of presenting a few concessions as a major triumph, he will be found out. After over 40 years of EU membership, a cynical British public will not be fooled.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1nGlAnh

Peter Franklin: Would you trust Boris Johnson with an army of flying robots?
“Even if there are no malfunctions, one has to wonder what the mere sight of UAVs in action would do to the relationship between government and people. Imagine a swarm of drones hovering over a protest in Trafalgar Square – swooping down to take photographs, barking out orders, firing missiles – what would that say about our country? Perhaps, we’ll be gradually habituated to the use of drones. The authorities could start off by using just a few for surveillance purposes, but then add to their numbers and capabilities step by step. Where is all of this heading? Hopefully not with anything like the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone (CUPID) – an experimental UAV currently under development in Texas. Instead firing love darts, this system delivers an 80,000 volt electric shock. You can see CUPID in action here – and if it doesn’t make your blood run cold, I don’t know what will.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1qxH6gG

Andrew Gimson interview: Lord Hill denies he will be our next European Commissioner  “ConHome: “If the Prime Minister asked you to be our next European commissioner, would you consent?” Hill: “Non, non, non.” ConHome: “You speak French! This means you are highly suitable.” Hill: “First, I don’t believe I’m going to be asked. Secondly, I like it here. I quite like it at home, in the British Isles. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to arise. Like all these things, you see your name being punted around by other people. It acquires then a life of its own, which is nothing to do with me. I assume, although I don’t know, that the reason I ever got put publicly in the frame for it is the assumption that people want to find an MP, and then they think, oh gosh, there’s a problem with a by-election, but what does that leave you with? Oooh, there’s that other place called the House of Lords, apparently, oh wasn’t there someone called Cathy Ashton who used to be Leader of the House of Lords [who got sent from that position to be a European Commissioner], that I guess was the thought sequence. I’m not too fussed about the stories. I’m not too active in cultivating a profile or anything at all really.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1pQTrNy

John Bald: Why are white working class pupils doing worse than others at school?
“This approach requires very careful selection of quotations, and one of the best is from Vic Goddard, head of Passmores’ Academy, Harlow. Mr Goddard points out that children spend 18-19 per cent of their adolescence in school, and so four times as much time out of it. “From that point of view,” he says, “where are you going to make the biggest impact quickest? It is great if you could tackle parenting quicker, but obviously that is not an easy fix, whereas throwing money at schools and making me responsible for it is.” Except, of course, that this is not a fix, and, indeed, there may well be no such thing. The Committee recommends small, sensible steps, including encouraging heads to take on difficult schools, having schools work together, tracking the career paths of newly qualified teachers, making sure low-achieving schools get their share of good teachers, working with parents, early intervention – it endorses a new check for children aged two-and-a-half – and Sir Michael Wilshaw’s idea of sub-regional projects to target pockets of low achievement in rural and coastal areas.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1mBDrOn

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