7.30pm update: An edited version of this letter from John Hayes MP will appear in tomorrow’s Times:

"Dear Sir,

David Cameron has made enormous strides since becoming Conservative Leader.  He has rightly focused our Party’s sights on long neglected issues like the quality of life, better protection of children through strong families, social justice and the environment.  We must ensure that our campaigning strengths match our Leader’s clear vision about these imperatives.  For Cornerstone, David Burrowes MP – who achieved the biggest Conservative swing in the 2005 election – has identified, from a study of 70 seats, the core components of electoral success.  In an age when tribal Party allegiance is waning, he argues that local credibility; effectively articulated strong traditional values and well-honed campaigning skills are vital strengths for our candidates.

Contrary to your report (May 30) none of this is incompatible with the need to tap the talents of more women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.  That’s why the principle of a priority candidate list is right – in fact many Cornerstone members helped to build it.  So I deeply regret the misinterpretation of my remarks when launching the pamphlet, which were certainly not intended as a criticism of David Cameron or his policy of attracting a wider or more representative cadre of candidates.

As the A-list continues to grow, it will draw in talent from a steadily expanding range of backgrounds, both professional (including, for example, from the public and voluntary sector) and geographical – helping to ensure that Tory candidates are not only of the highest quality, but also reflect the diversity of the country we aspire to govern.

As David Burrowes argues, all of this must be built on sure commitment and sound campaigning skills.

Change is never easy; it is an evolutionary process to which we should all give our best ideas and best endeavours. Cornerstone will continue to contribute positively because, above all, we want David Cameron to be Britain’s next Prime Minister.

John Hayes MP"


Guido thinks that the Cornerstone Group (which desperately needs a new website) is crumbling after the controversy provoked by Tuesday’s publication of ‘Pick ‘Em Local’ and more particularly because of John Hayes’ chichi remarks.  The libertarian Guido will be disappointed to learn that the socially conservative Cornerstone Group is in fact holding steady.  ConservativeHome has been emailed the definitive list of 35 public supporters/ members…

  1. David Amess
  2. Brian Binley
  3. Peter Bone
  4. Julian Brazier
  5. David Burrowes
  6. Douglas Carswell
  7. Bill Cash
  8. Christopher Chope
  9. Stephen Crabb
  10. David TC Davies
  11. Philip Davies
  12. Christopher Fraser
  13. Robert Goodwill
  14. Greg Hands
  15. Mark Harper
  16. John Hayes
  17. Philip Hollobone
  18. Gerald Howarth
  19. David Jones
  20. Daniel Kawczynski
  21. Edward Leigh
  22. Ian Liddell-Grainger
  23. David Mundell
  24. Owen Paterson
  25. John Redwood
  26. Laurence Robertson
  27. Andrew Rosindell
  28. Lee Scott
  29. Andrew Selous
  30. Bob Spink
  31. Graham Stuart
  32. Desmond Swayne
  33. Andrew Turner
  34. Charles Walker
  35. Angela Watkinson

Three other MPs are effectively supporters but for various reasons have asked not to be publicly identified as such.  ConservativeHome has verified the accuracy of this claim.