Sunday, February 05, 2006
Indy Speculates on Cameron's gAy List
Today's Independent on Sunday carries an article about a supposed gAy list being drawn up by CCO. Marie Woolf, the paper's political editor, suggests that Nicholas Boles, Margot James, Ashley Crossley and, ahem, a certain Iain Dale will be given "preferential treatment". I normally shy away from 'pigeon-holing' articles such as this, but I wanted to make clear to her that the A List system does not mean so-called 'preferential treatment' and I certainly wouldn't either expect or want any. I explained to her that 550 people had been sent the application form, not 'the chosen few'. I am quoted as saying "I am going to apply to be on the A-list. But everyone has to be on it on merit. We don't want any kind of tokenism ... I want to be selected because who I am, and what I can do." Read on...
David Cameron's first public gesture as Tory leader was to announce the creation of a candidates' A-list, to boost the number of women and ethnic-minority MPs. But a "gAy list" of homosexuals whom the Conservative leadership is keen to see in Parliament is also being drawn up for their most winnable seats. Last week, a number of openly gay figures within the Tory party received letters asking them to apply to join an elite list of "priority" candidates who would have "a much higher change of being selected for a winnable seat, and therefore, of becoming an MP after the next election". The letter urged them not to "hold back just because you feel that you lack political experience," adding: "We are looking for diversity, talent and potential." Among the openly gay politicians invited to apply for preferential treatment in the selection of candidates ahead of the next election are Nick Boles, the director of the think tank Policy Exchange who failed to gain Hove for the Tories at the last election. "There doesn't need to be much intervention to ensure there is a good selection of openly gay people in winnable seats. I have always been openly gay. I hope to get on the list and to get a seat," Mr Boles said. Margot James, the millionaire businesswoman who fought the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancras, has also been asked put her name forward for the list of candidates for winnable target seats. Iain Dale, the former chief of staff to David Davis, received a letter last week asking him if he would "like to be considered as a priority candidate". "I am going to apply to be on the A-list. But everyone has to be on it on merit. We don't want any kind of tokenism ... I want to be selected because who I am, and what I can do," Mr Dale said. The Tories are also keen to promote gay candidates who have not stood in elections before. They include Dan Ritterband, 31, who used to work in Michael Howard's private office and now works in Conservative campaign headquarters. Ashley Crossley, who failed to gain Falmouth and Cambourne from Labour at the last election, and had to deal with homophobia after his opponents allegedly tried to "dig dirt" on his lifestyle, is also expected to be asked to join Mr Cameron's list of the "best and brightest". The move follows concerns about homophobia within the Tory ranks which has led to allegations that local Conservative parties give preferential treatment to married candidates. The party is still dealing with the aftermath of supporting Section 28, which outlawed the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle by local authorities. As one Tory said yesterday: "Homophobia in the Tory party may not be alive and well but it is only recently dead." "If we want to look more like a 21st-century party, it's not just more women, ethnic minorities and disabled people we should be trying to attract, but gay people as well," said one senior Tory figure. "We are not making a thing of asking gay people to join the A list as we are with other groups, but of course it is happening." Ben Summerskill of the lobby group Stonewall said he was pleased that openly gay Conservatives had been approached to stand in the most winnable seats to help "make the parliamentary base reflect 21st-century Britain". "It's not just lesbians and gay people who welcome this, it's people throughout society."
And on the A List theme, Vincent Moss writes this in the Sunday Mirror...
WOULD YOU ADAM 'N' EVE IT.. TV PIN-UP IS NEW TORY BOY
FORMER Coronation Street heart-throb Adam Rickitt is being lined up as a future Tory MP in a safe seat after "hugely impressing" party chiefs. Adam - who last played Nick, son of long-suffering Gail Tilsley, in 2004 - is on the brink of swapping acting for a political career, according to friends. His transformation from Corrie pin-up to party hopeful was completed last week with an appearance on BBC1's Question Time. His sure-footed performance as a pundit on the heavyweight show has now guaranteed him a chance as a Tory MP. A senior Conservative source said last night: "Everyone at HQ was hugely impressed by his confident and assured style. He is exactly the kind of young, dynamic character that David Cameron wants to promote as the face of the party." Tory chiefs are likely to offer Adam, 27, the chance to join its elite "A-list" of candidates for the next election. But the prospect of the former underwear model, who had a brief pop career and became a gay icon, is bound to cause a few raised eyebrows.