Last night’s meeting of the 1922 Committee was, I hear, not a particularly well-attended affair. This is odd because the speaker was Lynton Crosby, whose confident briefings tend to cheer Tory MPs up no end. But sources who were there say there no more than about 30 MPs in attendance.
Crosby gave a short presentation in which he urged backbenchers to return every discussion they had in broadcasts and on the doorstep to the economy, but was then confronted by John Redwood over what the senior backbencher felt was a failure of message discipline from the government. Redwood complained that ministers were repeatedly distracting from the economy at the same time as backbenchers were being lectured about sticking to talking about that topic. He mentioned the watered-down version of English votes for English laws, the decision to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and continued rumblings about what school teachers can or can’t say about gay marriage. Crosby responded that there were still some barnacles that needed scraping from the boat.
MPs were rather surprised that they didn’t receive a more detailed briefing from Crosby, though he did seem rather wary of anything he did say leaking. But though they are very happy with their robotic chant of ‘long-term economic plan’, they are a little grumpy that there are these distractions such as cigarettes. They were even grumpier that the discussion last night didn’t cover Europe or immigration.