By Tim Montgomerie
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Over the next few days we will be announcing how 2,568 of Tory members have voted in ten end-of-year awards. We begin with the result of the Parliamentarian of the Year award. In a very tight contest Jesse Norman won 34.6% of votes – narrowly beating Robert Halfon (32.1%) into second place and Mark Reckless (31.2%) into third place.
Jesse Norman masterminded the successful Tory rebellion on Lords reform. This is what Paul Goodman wrote about Jesse at the time:
"The author of an elegant book about the Big Society and a ferocious campaigner against PFI, the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire was a likely candidate for promotion. He has turned his back on it to fight for a cause in which he believes. "
He may not win early promotion under David Cameron but he has marked himself out as a man of principle and of considerable organising skills. More Tory backbenchers voted against the government's plans or abstained than voted in favour of them. I have nominated him as a future Home Secretary in my 2020 Cabinet.
Shortly after it became clear that Lords reform was not going to happen Nick Clegg broke his promise and linked boundary and Lords reform, ensuring that the Tories paid a heavy price for their rebellion.
In second place in this award category is Robert Halfon who led the successful campaign to freeze petrol duty. My colleague Matthew Barrett wrote this account of how he triumphed. Rob, the MP for Striver Town Central – otherwise known as Harlow – has become a leading parliamentary advocate of a more blue collar-friendly conservatism. For him it is more important for the Conservative Party to cut taxes on the low-paid than any other voter group. He is now campaigning for the re-introduction of the 10p tax band – something first advanced by the ConHome Majority Project.
In third place is Mark Reckless. Mark led the last successful rebellion of the year – calling for a tough negotiating position from David Cameron on the EU budget. 52 Tory MPs joined him in calling for a freeze in Britain's contribution to the EU. Opinion polls suggest that the public is overwhelming in support of Mark Reckless' aims. If UKIP readers had been included in the poll Mark Reckless would have topped the vote.