Wednesday, April 12, 2006
New Candidate Selection Procedures: The Pros & Cons
Yesterday Francis Maude outlined the new selection procedure for Conservative Parliamentary Candidates. If you want to see it in full click HERE. In general I think most of the changes are reasonable, but there are two areas which concern me. Firstly, I remain profoundly concerned that the primary system will be open to activists from other Parties to influence. I am quite in favour of local community representatives being involved, but we do need to find a way of ensuring that Labour and LibDem members or activists cannot influence who their opponent might be. Secondly, a major part of being an MP is that you have to make speeches, whether you like it or not. Under the new system a selection meeting will have no opportunity to establish whether a candidate is capable of making a good speech or not. Simon C on Conservative Home makes a good point. "As a candidate in 2001 I received countless speaking invitations to local groups & associations (eg. pensioners, charities, business groups, schools, residents....). Yes, I answered lots of questions as well, but the first impression they had of me was the speech that they had asked me to give. And if word gets out that you can give a good speech, you get more invitations. A good speech isn't always a barn-storming tub-thumping special. Indeed, that would go down poorly in many of the situations I mention. As others have said, it does give the candidate the opportunity to get across, even if only in 5 minutes, any message that s/he wants to. " I agree with the view that perhaps in the past too much emphasis has been put on the ability to rabble-rouse, but we should not exclude speechmaking from the process entirely. I think the idea of involving local journalists in an interview format is a great one. I wonder, however, whether there should be an element of the interview where all 3 or 4 candidates are on stage together in a sort of pseudo-Question Time format. As well as making speeches, dealing with the media is a key part of the job of any modern day politician. I think the most interesting aspect of this will be to see how many Associations open up their selections to real primaries. The first 30 or so will be selecting during June and July.