Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Antidote to Front-Bench Domination

Graham Brady wins chairmanship of 1922 Committee

For those concerned about the dominance of Parliamentary caucuses by the front bench -- Cabinet Ministers and Opposition Critics -- the British Conservative Party offers a fantastic solution.

Since 1923, the 1922 Committee -- so named after the 1922 election in which the Tories won a massive landslide after terminating a coalition government with the National Liberal party of David Lloyd George, at the demand of Conservative backbenchers -- has consisted of Conservative backbenchers, and has often served as a means by whcih backbench MPs can hold the party leadership to account.

"My colleagues have done me a great honour and placed a great responsibility on me to work to help to make our arrangements a success in these difficult circumstances," Brady announced. "My priority will be to spend as much time as I can talking and listening to all of my colleagues across the parliamentary party, especially the new intake who make up such a large part of it."

Brady is a known critic of Prime Minister David Cameron, who recently attempted to talk the 1922 Committee into allowing front-benchers to join the committee. The committee understandably declined.

But Brady is more than a simple rabble rouser.

Daniel Hannan knows well that difference. Hannan himself has been known to be a critic of Cameron, particularly over Cameron's decision to abandon promises to hold a referendum on the European Union.

"Graham grasps the distinction between sticking to your principles and making trouble for the sake of it," Hannan writes in an op/ed. "He resigned from the front bench unfussily over his support for grammar schools, and remained loyal and polite thereafter. It was his example I had in mind when I left the European front bench in protest at the dropping of the referendum commitment."

That Daniel Hannan followed Brady's example clearly gives Cameron reason for pause. That's actually the best reason for him to be the chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Cameron's government is one that has already been born out of an act of compromise. There's nothing wrong with compromise, but there can be such a thing as too much compromise. Too much compromise can very quickly become a complete betrayal of a party's principles.

The amount of power wielded by the 1922 Committee can prevent any such wholesale betrayal.

Organizations such as the 1922 Committee could prove to be beneficiary for conservative political parties in any number of Parliamentary democracies.

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