Whenever the activities of the 1922 Committee hit the headlines, the media stories will invariably refer to it as ‘the influential’ 1922 Committee. They will also tend to make a hash of explaining its origins. The London Metro this morning was fairly characteristic of the breed: “The 1922 Committee, which takes its name from the year it was founded…”. The Daily Telegraph claims it is “named after the 1922 general election, which was called after the Conservatives withdrew from a coalition government with David Lloyd George’s Liberals.”
If the Committee was named after the year it was founded, it would be called the 1923 Committee. The 1922 Committee – more formally the Conservative Private Members’ (1922) Committee – acquired its name because it was formed by a group of Conservative MPs, led by Sir Gervais Rentoul, who were first elected in 1922. The initial meeting to set up the committee took place in April 1923. It was designed essentially as a self-help group for new Conservative Members. It was expanded in the subsequent Parliament to incorporate the new intake of MPs before being opened to all Conservative Private Members – that is, all Conservative MPs other than the leader in Opposition and all Conservative MPs other than ministers when in Government.
Mind you, it is not only the media who get confused as to when and why the committee was founded. In 1992, the 1922 Committee itself was considering holding a 70th anniversary celebration before it was pointed out that it would be a premature celebration.