By Tim Montgomerie
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I'm in a bit of a rush tonight so forgive the brevity but two notable meetings tonight.
- Meeting one was a meeting of Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPSs) where it was suggested to that they call back the 301 Group's slate of candidates in the forthcoming 1922 elections. I recently blogged about this slate. There have been suspicions that the 301's slate has the backing of the Tory leadership but that backing has now been made explicit in a meeting addressed by Keith Simpson, the Foreign Secretary's PPS. One veteran MP was enraged by the development, seeing it as another attempt by the party leadership to take control of the '22.
- Meeting two was the gathering of the 1922 when Nadine Dorries MP was heavily criticised. More surprising was the way that Stewart Jackson MP was shouted down when he argued that we had to be an ecumenical party where dissident voices were given proper house room. 15 to 20 MPs told him to shut up and sit down. He warned that UKIP could cost the Tories the next election. I'm told that the likes of Kris Hopkins, Claire Perry, Anna Soubry and Robert Buckland led the loyalists.
I'll update the blog when I hear more but the party is heading for trouble if MPs stop treating each other with respect. The so-called Tory Right can't defeat the Cameroons and the Cameroons can't silence the Tory Right. On one side is a group that will not allow criticism of the leadership and on another side is a group that is too ready to attack the leadership. In the middle stand 80% of the parliamentary party. We need to find ways and fora for getting on with one another or things are going to become very difficult indeed in the months ahead. Where are the grown ups who can oversee peace talks?