The Sunday Times recently ran an interesting article outlining a number of different back bench groups within the Conservative Party. These groups range from those seeking a new approach to Europe, a return to traditional conservative values and ultra modernisers.
There are seven groups identified. These are outlined below.
1922 Committee: Formed in 1923 this group was originally made up solely of back bench MPs until a recent vote in 2010. However, it is regarded as the official forum for back benchers. It is dominated by the right in the party and seeks to achieve a separate identity for the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government.
2020 Group: This is a rival to the 1922 Committee. This group is made up of a relatively few ultra modernisers (around 40) who are big supporters of David Cameron. They are centre left in their policies.
Fresh Start Project: This is a new group of around 100 Euro sceptics who are seeking to reduce the influence of Europe in British affairs and claw back power from the EU. According to the blog on the conservative site, two Labour MPs have now agreed to caucus with the group - Frank Field and Gisela Stuart.
Cornerstone: Formed in 2005, this group are seen as having traditional conservative values, summarised in their motto, Family, Faith and Flag. They number about 40 in strength. They seek to limit any more removal of power either to the EU or to regional bodies through devolution.
The Free Enterprise Group: This group is made up of about 36 new MPs. They seek to liberalise the economic system in the UK through reducing regulation on small businesses and lowering taxes.
The 40: This group is concerned about seeking re election in the next general election. They won in 2010 with a small majority and these 40 MPs focus their attention on job creation in order to improve their chances of holding onto their seat.
301 Group: This group was created to counter the growth in power of the right within the party. Named after the number of seats the Tories need to gain an overall majority at the next election, they desire to reach out to new voters by looking at social issues such as the NHS, vulnerable groups and ethnic communities. Seen as the natural balance to the 1922 Committee, they seek promotion and are currently keen supporters of Cameron.