It seems that reports of the imminent demise of the Cornerstone Group have been rather exaggerated, not least by yours truly (see my post on 31 January). My spies in Portcullis House tell me that the inaugural meeting of "Junior Cornerstone" was held this lunchtime. A truly terrifying thought. For the uninitiated Cornerstone is a group of hard right Conservative MPs led by John Hayes (pictured right) and Edward Leigh whose priorities are family, flag and faith. Although the majority supported David Cameron in the leadership election they remain deeply suspicious of modernisation and have hardly a liberal bone in their bodies. Junior Cornerstone is made up predominantly of the MP members' researchers apparently. They were overheard discussing such urgent priorities as abolising the Department of Culture Media & Sport. Cornerstone itself has about 25 MP members and even has its own whip in Robert Goodwill MP - something that has gone down in the Tory Whips Office like a cup of cold sick. They hear echoes of the Militant Tendency 'party within a party'. But I'm told that as a first task the Juniors have been instructed by John Hayes to chase up miscreant MP members for non payment of their £40 subscription Cornerstone fee. It seems the Group has plans to employ its own researcher, although I'm not sure that 25x£40 will go very far. The group broke up in very good heart but contrary to popular rumour failed to conclude their meeting with a rendition of the Horst Wessel Song. An MP friend of mine has already dubbed them the "Eckstein Jugend". How naughty.
PS Message to the Group's organiser: Don't hold the next meeting in the Debate Restaurant in Portcullis House. You never know who might be listening!
PPS Eckstein is German for Cornerstone. Jugend is German for Youth. Need one say more.