David Cameron’s sudden move to allow ministers to join the normally backbench 1922 Committee has passed, by 168 votes to 118. It was met with surprise and suspicion, but clearly a majority of his MPs didn’t want to humiliate the new PM so soon.
Nonetheless, Cameron has just gratuitously offended 40% of his MPs into defying him. It feels a bit like the massive Labour rebellion in 2001, on whether to remove two ‘awkward’ select committee chairs. That was the portent of further revolts to come.
And now, the 1922 Committee will become a much less clear indicator of the backbench mood; more diffused discontent will be easier to ignore but harder to negotiate with when needed. What’s also likely is that other (Camero-sceptic) factions, such as the Cornerstone and 92 groups, will become more prominent as focuses of criticism.
It’s been a long time since the Tories were last in power; I’d quite forgotten how interesting their backbenchers can be…