Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 18:18 UK

Brady elected as Tories' 1922 Committee chairman

Graham Brady and Richard Ottaway
Graham Brady (left) and Richard Ottaway competed for the job

Graham Brady has been elected as the new chairman of the Conservatives' backbench 1922 Committee.

He beat Richard Ottaway by 126 votes to 85 in a vote which came days after David Cameron backed down from a confrontation with backbenchers.

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Brady was less sympathetic to the Tory leadership than Mr Ottaway.

Mr Brady is best known for quitting the Conservative frontbench in 2007 during the row over grammar schools.

He replaces Sir Michael Spicer who has stepped down as an MP - the new members of the 1922 Committee's executive will be announced on Thursday.

'Listening'

Mr Brady said he was "delighted" with the result and - referring to his party's coalition with the Lib Dems - said he had a responsibility to "work to help to make our arrangements a success in these difficult circumstances".

1922 COMMITTEE
Was actually founded in 1923 - it takes its name from the year its founders were elected
Keeps Tory leadership informed of mood of backbenchers
Meets weekly to discuss parliamentary business
Chairman presides over Tory leadership election
Chairman can trigger confidence vote in leader if 15% of Tory MPs write to ask him to do so - as happened with Iain Duncan Smith

"My priority will be to spend as much time as I can talking and listening to all of my colleagues across the parliamentary party, especially the new intake who make up such a large part of it," he added.

The prime minister provoked uproar among some of his backbenchers last week when he urged them to back his proposal that "the 1922 committee should change to encompass the whole of the parliamentary party".

The committee is usually made up of backbenchers when the Conservative Party is in government.

Some Conservatives were angry at the way the snap ballot was called, saying it came as a "bolt from the blue" and they were annoyed that the whole parliamentary party was allowed to vote to change the committee's rules.

'Minor drama'

They believed it would mean Tory ministers could vote for the new chairman as well as members of the committee's executive.

Mr Cameron won the vote by 168 votes to 118 on Thursday, but on Monday a Conservative spokesman said the ballot only meant frontbenchers could attend meetings at any time and would not affect votes to the committee's executive, which would still only be open to backbenchers.

Mr Cameron insisted he was not "picking a fight" with his backbenchers but had felt "bringing the party together was the right thing to do".

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude dismissed it as "a kind of minor drama, not many injured".

Twelve of the 25 candidates standing for the 12 executive posts on the 1922 Committee are new MPs - reflecting the large intake of new MPs in the 2010 election.

Altrincham and Sale West MP Graham Brady is best known for resigning from the Conservative front bench in 2007 - saying he had to resign to be free to speak his mind in defence of selective education.

He was the youngest Conservative MP when he was elected in 1997, weeks before his 30th birthday, but was promoted to employment spokesman under William Hague, then schools spokesman in 2001.

He also served as Michael Howard's parliamentary private secretary in 2004 before becoming a shadow minister in the foreign affairs team.

Former Navy officer Richard Ottaway was elected as Croydon South MP in 1992 - although he had been an MP before, winning Nottingham North in 1983. He was a whip in the final years of John Major's government and served in various shadow cabinet roles - including shadow environment secretary and shadow paymaster general.



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