Congratulations to my colleagues who were elected to either the Executive of the 1922 Committee or the Backbench Business Committee yesterday.
For those unfamiliar with what these committees do, the 1922 Committee is comprised of backbench Conservative MPs. Its Executive represents our views to the leadership, the House of Commons authorities and others - I was elected a member back in 2010 but had to stand down when I was appointed a PPS. The Backbench Business Committee is a cross-party committee of the House of Commons which decides how time allocated for backbench business (as opposed to Government business or issues that opposition parties want to discuss) is used.
Both committees are elected each Parliamentary session. Normally these elections don't elicit much media attention but on this occasion a slate of predominantly new MPs was challenging more senior colleagues who they perceived to be not team players. There are often informal slates but this was much more public and the media predictably portrayed the election as a test of how supportive the Parliamentary Party is of the Prime Minister.
Although I have a very high regard for a number of the people on the slate, I don't think this is the right way to approach elections within the Parliamentary Party. It is important that the Executive of the 1922 reflects all shades of opinion within the Party and includes both new MPs and more experienced colleagues. Like nearly all of the colleagues I have spoken to, I voted for some people on the slate, some people on the existing committee and some people standing on their own merits and I am therefore very pleased with the outcome.
Now that this unnecessarily divisive election is out of the way, it is essential that the Parliamentary Party unites and focuses on representing the views of the Conservative side of the Coalition to Government Ministers and helping to develop the policies on which we will fight the next Election. We have a huge job to do dealing with the mess we inherited from Labour - if we don't hang together, we will hang apart.