BBC RADIO 4: Who Are the '22?

Press/Media: Expert comment

Period29 Aug 2022

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleWho Are the '22?
    Media name/outletBBC Radio 4
    Media typeRadio
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionThey meet on a weekly basis, they have the power to unseat the Prime Minister and they were known to Margaret Thatcher as the "men in grey suits". The 1922 Committee have played a pivotal role in the recent fortunes of one of the oldest and most successful political parties anywhere in the world, the Conservative Party. So, who are "the '22"? How were they formed, and what powers do they hold over the Tory leadership and the party?

    Professor Sir David Cannadine tells the story of the origins of the 1922 Committee and gains an insight into how our most powerful political party operates, behind the closed doors of Committee Room 14.

    Back in 1922, Britain was ruled by a coalition, led by the Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. But the Conservatives were the majority in government and in parliament, and they were becoming increasingly disillusioned by Lloyd George’s corrupt ways and irresponsibility. In October 1922, backbench Tories held a meeting at the Carlton Club, and they withdrew their support, which brought the Lloyd George coalition to an end. The Conservatives won a landslide majority in the ensuing general election, and more than one hundred Tories became MPs for the first time. They needed to find their feet in Parliament and the Chief Whip offered to make arrangements to brief them at weekly meetings. So The Conservative Private Members (1922) Committee came into being - in April 1923!

    While in recent times the ’22 has acquired a reputation as being the body that makes and unmakes Tory leaders, that wasn’t what it was set up to do, and it wasn’t what it did for most of its history.

    David speaks to the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady MP, and the Vice Chair Nusrat Ghani; former ’22 Chairman Lord Archie Hamilton; Lord Stephen Parkinson, former Political Secretary to Teresa May; Caroline Slocock, former Private Secretary to Mrs Thatcher; to the political historians Lord Philip Norton and Dr Emily Jones; and to Christopher Hope, the Telegraph’s Associate Political Editor.
    PersonsEmily Jones


  • Conservative Party
  • UK politics
  • modern British history