"Dear David, It is with sincere regret that I’ve decided to step down from the Opposition frontbench.
It has been a privilege to work as Shadow Europe Minister both under you and under Michael Howard. I particularly regret that I will not be in post to fight the coming battle over the EU constitution. I remain firmly committed to your policy of returning social and employment law to British control and to your trenchant opposition to the transfer of further powers to the EU, and I wish you every success in achieving those goals in government.
In recent weeks however, it has been increasingly difficult for me to reconcile my duties as a constituency member of Parliament with the collective responsibility that is required of members of the frontbench. As you know my Altrincham and Sale West constituency has four excellent grammar schools and four equally outstanding high schools. We are a part of the borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester which has a thriving, modern selective system of education – a system that consistently puts the local education authority at the very top of national league tables, even though we are socially and ethnically a very diverse area.
For nearly all of my life I have campaigned to support Trafford schools, indeed it was because the Conservative Party was such a staunch defender of Trafford schools that I first joined the party and campaigned for it. This is something that I have continued to do in Parliament over the past 10 years.
Although you made it clear when you became leader that you were not planning to introduce more grammar schools, unfortunately, David Willetts’ argument that grammar schools impede social mobility has gone much further and undermines the schools in my constituency which continue to achieve excellent results for children of all abilities and from all social backgrounds. One grammar school head wrote to me saying: ‘His statement must be music to the ears of anti-grammar school campaigners. I can imagine them dusting off their grammar school ballot literature of a few years ago as I speak!’
Like all Members of Parliament who have grammar schools in their constituencies, I must now help to provide the evidence that those schools need to defend themselves. That is why I have felt duty bound to continue my practice of obtaining and publishing facts which demonstrate that selective local education authorities perform better than comprehensive ones.
If I did not put this evidence in the public domain, I would be failing the excellent schools in my constituency. Furthermore at a time when both major parties have adopted very similar education policies, the quality of public debate would be diminished if no one in the House of Commons were able to bring forward evidence that may lead to better educational outcomes for the nation’s children.
I hope that you will understand how difficult this decision has been for me and how much I regret any embarrassment that may have been caused to you and the Conservative Party. Faced with a choice of a frontbench position that I have loved and doing what I believe to be right for my constituents and for the many hundreds of thousands of families who are ill served by state education in this country, there is in conscience only one decision open to me.
I will continue to serve the interests of the Conservative cause in Greater Manchester and nationally to the best of my ability.
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in an important and exciting frontbench position for the last 18 months.
Yours ever, Graham."
Related link: David Cameron’s letter to Graham Brady