I’m conscious that I have been neglecting the blog. A combination of commitments and marking has meant that what little time I have had available has been devoted to research. I am working on three research projects, or rather four but three have submission deadlines that are not that far away. All three are related to Parliament. One is on the oratory of Enoch Powell – it follows my 2011 Speaker’s Lecture on Powell as a parliamentarian (published in Eminent Parliamentarians) – and another is on Parliament and human rights. However, the most estensive and time-consuming is on the 1922 Committee.
The 1922 Committee is in effect the Parliamentary Conservative Party. Were it to be called the Parliamentary Conservative Party it would doubtless cause less confusion than that created by the name by which it is popularly known. (It decided in 1943 to change its name to the Conservative and Unionists Members Committee, but no one appears to have taken any notice; even the Committee continues to call itself the 1922 Committee.) This year marks the 90th anniversary of its founding. It was not actually founded in 1922, but in April 1923. Its name derives from the fact that it was founded by some MPs first elected in the 1922 election. It was only later that other MPs were invited to join.
I am busy undertaking research to mark this anniversary. I spent yesterday at the Bodleian Library in Oxford going through the minutes of the Committee. I have spent time in the Bodleian before researching the minutes (for an earlier publication), but I wanted to bring the research up to date. Going through the minutes of the 1922 Committee may not be everybody’s cup of tea – indeed, I seem to be one of the few people who have read them – but to me the material is fascinating. This is the sort of research that makes my day. Then again, I did spend years in the underground stacks of Sheffield University Library researching Hansard (manually going through about 3,000 division lists) and The Times for my PhD, so I’m well trained.