The outcry from Conservative back benchers over Cameron gaining ministerial say in the 1922 committee shows that there is something that the bigger partner of the coalition could learn from the smaller partner. That lesson is let the party democracy have its say.

The 1922 Committee has been sort of the conscious of the Conservative party just as the Liberal Democrats Federal Executive and conferences are to our own party. It was the place where the backbenchers could have their say without fear of ministerial interference. They could talk openly about their concerns without fear of recrimination.

Of course the Liberal Democrats have long maintained that anyone can talk openly in debate against a certain line the leadership want to take. In fact there have been times that conference has voted against the ‘perceived’ leadership line. But there isn’t any recriminations in doing so, that is part of democracy. That voice from the foot soldiers is often different and more in touch than those in the Westminster bubble

So with the 1922 Committee vote going 168 to 118 in favour of allowing Ministers in, 78 of whom voted for.

David Cameron had taken his decision to enter a coalition to all his MPs, Nick Clegg had done likewise, as well as the Federal Exec as required, but further to the special conference which wasn’t required after the first two approved. He may have been scared of the feedback he may have received from the membership but was still prepared to let them have their say. Cameron is now trying to silence and maybe control a bit tighter some of those that form that Government, it may not bode well as a matter of trust.

As former MP Paul Goodman said:

“A week ago, Cameron retained the goodwill of most of his MPs, despite failing to win the election outright and forming a coalition with an opposing party – on what many of them regarded as dubious terms. However, much of that goodwill has vanished since yesterday afternoon.”

There is of course nothing stopping the backbenchers forming a second group, maybe calling it the 2010 Committee in which they can keep the Ministers and ‘pay roll’ vote out of proceedings and discussions. I wonder how long it will take to form that group?

Advertisements