Tory Reform Group
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The TRG sees itself as the voice of moderate, One Nation Conservatism throughout the Party. In 2009, writing for the TRG's journal The Reformer, David Cameron said that "the TRG has contributed greatly to the Conservative Party over the last 30 years and is central to where we need to be in the future. Not just because of the people involved and the events held. But because your core beliefs in 'freedom, individual responsibility and community' matter now more than ever".
The TRG has an events programme and publications, principally its journal. The TRG brings together members and supporters of the Conservative Party who share this approach to Conservative politics. Members include parliamentarians, councillors, association officers and private individuals.
The oldest known branch, which pre-dated the National TRG, was founded in the University of Oxford in 1962, when they split from the Oxford University Conservative Association. This branch disbanded in 2007.
The Tory Reform Group (TRG) was formally established in June 1975 from the merger of four groups: PEST (Pressure for Economic and Social Toryism), two separate London dining clubs called the Macleod Group and Social Tory Action Group, and a consortium in the North West also known as the McLeod Group led by two Young Conservative activists and parliamentary candidates Steve Perry and Stuart Lindsay who had already changed the name to the TRG.
The key figure in the formation of TRG was Peter Walker MP, a former Minister in Heath's Government from 1970–1974. Once out of government, he was urged by MPs to form a parliamentary group that represented the liberal Conservative view of the Tory Party.
Walker was reluctant to form such a group at first, not least because he was sensitive to the damaging effects the Tribune Group had wrought on Labour and did not like the idea of similarly factionalising the Conservative Party. As time passed, however, other groups emerged, including right-wing Conservative groups, and the perceived need for a counteracting group increased. At his home in Westminster, Walker met with chairmen of four organisations he had previously had contact with, and they agreed to come together to form the TRG. From the start, the TRG was an activist group with membership, as opposed to being a think tank. The TRG hoped to spread its view through publication of pamphlets, discussion with MPs, use of media, and by widening its membership. Weekly lunches were inherited from PEST. London PEST had organised a Tuesday Luncheon Club in local pubs, such as Magpie and Stump in Old Bailey. These lunches provided a programme of speakers as well as opportunities for members to become involved in constituency activities.
In January 1976, TRG released its first publication, entitled Home Run by Nicholas Scott MP, the President of TRG, arguing for a nationwide extension of the GLC's sale of council houses to their tenants a key part of the Conservative policy platform.
The 1980s saw TRG pitched headlong into some passionate debates within the Conservative Party, notably over the direction of economic policy and the apartheid regime in South Africa. The group made annual Budget submissions representing their opposition to Thatcherite economic views.
The TRG sees itself following the philosophies of Benjamin Disraeli's "One Nation" and Harold Macmillan's "Middle Way". With an interventionist attitude, the TRG was set in the image of historical figures such as Iain Macleod and R.A. Butler.
Most pro-Europe Conservative politicians of the last thirty years have at one time or another been associated with the Tory Reform Group. The TRG was a constituent organisation of Conservative Mainstream alongside the Conservative Europe Group and Parliamentary Mainstream, and at one time were all run from shared offices in Westminster. TRG members formed the core of the short lived Pro-Euro Conservative Party, which disbanded in favour of the Liberal Democrats within three years of being formed. The TRG is commonly seen as supporting the European Union. However, it has no official position on UK membership of the EU and includes many Eurosceptics among its members and supporters.
- President: Ken Clarke MP
- Chairman: Owen Meredith
- Deputy Chairman: Flora Coleman
- Patrons: Sir John Major, Nicholas Bourne AM, David Curry, Stephen Dorrell MP, Charles Hendry MP, Lord Heseltine, Lord Hunt of Wirral, Lord Hurd of Westwell, Lord Howard of Lympne, Steven Norris, Lord Patten of Barnes, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Sir Timothy Sainsbury, Ian Taylor, Lord Trimble, Lady Verma, Sir George Young MP, Richard Fuller MP, Neil Carmichael MP.
- Vice-Presidents: Alistair Burt MP, Damian Green MP, Jonathan Evans MP, Robert Buckland MP and Jane Ellison MP.
Defections from the Conservative PartyEdit
In the past, some Conservatives, who were also members of the TRG, have defected to parties to the left of the Conservatives. The following TRG members subsequently left the Conservative Party to other parties:
- Liberal Democrats: Emma Nicholson, Susan Bell, Arthur Bell, Hugh Dykes, Lord John Lee, Bill Newton Dunn, Peter Price MEP, Keith Raffan, Anna McCurley, Harold Elletson, Sir Cyril Townsend, Peter Thurnham, Sir Anthony Meyer, Paul Howell MEP
- Labour Party: Shaun Woodward, Alan Howarth, Peter Temple-Morris, Alan Amos, Anthony Nelson, Robert V. Jackson, Judith Symes
- Pro-Euro Conservative Party: John Stevens MEP, Brendan Donnelly MEP, Ian Gilmour, Tim Rathbone, Sir Julian Critchley, Nicholas Scott, David Knox MP, Robert Hicks, Margaret Daly, Adam Fergusson, Madron Seligman, Anthony Simpson
- Social Democratic Party: Stuart Bayless; Tom Hayhoe.
- The Independent Group: Anna Soubry, Stephen Dorrell, Neil Carmichael.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Tory Reform Group
- Cameron, David. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), The Reformer, London, June 2009.
- The Reformer
- Thatcher Foundation: Letter from Peter Walker to Leader 1975
- Associated Press: Anti-Apartheid Demonstrators pelt Thatcher's car, 1 August 1986
- Gainesville Sun, 1 August 1986
- "Phil Pedley: A former Euro-enthusiast admits – 'I was wrong'"
- TRG People Archived 23 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine – From the Official site
- Tory left starts fightback
- "Recent Liberal recruits include ex-Conservative MP Anna McCurley, ex-Tory Reform Group leader Arthur Bell and his wife Susan Bell" from North East Scotland by-election Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine in Scottish Politics – The almanac of Scottish elections and politics Archived 4 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Where are they now: Keith Raffan Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Total Politics
- Reformer, August 2003, page 25
- Times; Guardian; Daily Telegraph; Sun; Daily Mail; Daily Express; Mirror 12–14 August 1985
- Wickham, Alex. "More Tory MPs Say Right-Wing Entryism And The Threat Of Deselections Could Force Them To Quit The Party". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 20 February 2019.