Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Choice Facing Bromley & Chislehurst Conservatives

Selecting a candidate is a nightmare for any Association, especially for a by-election. Bromley & Chislehurst are not to be envied. In the coming few days they will have to make their choice. Do they pick a local candidate? Do they pick a high flier? Do they pick someone very much in the image of Eric Forth? How much notice do they take of guidance from CCHQ? I am not seeking to either guide or influence their choice, but I can, for what it's worth, offer my advice. And my advice is what it would be for any high profile by-election - and that is to play safe. If there is a good local candidate who can handle the media exposure of a by-election campaign then that's probably the safest bet - but I am not sure that person exists. Bob Neill has been touted, along with Nicholas Bennett. But Nick Bennett (as a former MP) was removed from the Candidates List last year and Bob Neill may be too committed to the GLA Group. There is a very good female local candidate called Jill Andrews but I don't know whether she is either still on the official list or would be interested. I have looked through the names on the 'A' List on ConservativeHome and I keep coming back to two names. Tim Collins and Laura Sandys. In this kind of situation I think Tim could be a good bet. He will be able to deal with the media, is combative as well as being tenacious. Laura is also media savvy, has a sunny personality and would be able to withstand the pressures of a by-election. No Conservative should be complacent about this by-election. It's not only the LibDems who will be soliciting Conservative votes. There will be a strong UKIP presence, no doubt the BNP will stand, the English Democrats will be fielding a candidate and there is likely to be a ridiculous egomaniac standing as an independent Conservative. I only live 15 miles away so I'm intending to spend as much time as possible on the streets of Bromley & Chislehurst. I hope any Conservative reading this will be joining me!

UPDATE: When I talked about "a ridiculous egomaniac standing as an independent Conservative" I wasn't talking about THIS man, believe it or not!

51 comments:

Mike said...

Iain, surely you're not excluding Syed Kamall? He is bright, good with the media, independently minded and very sound on policy.
Sounds just the kind of person who should replace Eric Forth.

Iain Dale said...

I am not excluding anyone, just giving my view. I don't know Syed Kamall and have never met him, so I can't offer an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Syed will have only been an MEP for a year as he took over when Theresa Villiers was elected in Chipping Barnet. That shouldn't bar him because of the list system but i wouldn't be surprised if he wouldn't want to leave the European Parliament quite so soon.

Anonymous said...

From the perspective as an outsider Cameron should pick a female a-lister and someone who has a lot of media talent.

Yes this will piss the local party off but that's good and will help show that he is in charge of the party. What matters to the public at large is leadership not the process by which a party selects its candidate.

Will said...

Tim Collins is someone who even most tories dislikes when he appears on TV. If he is the candidate you have to factor in a negative personal vote for him. If he is chosen my money will be on a surprise Lib Dem win.

Although if he was elected, Nigel Evans could go back to being a likeable guy. He seems to, against his character, taken on Collins' role as the 'negative' tory spokesman.

Griswold said...

Con need Tim Collins at Westminster. Experienced and v good speaker , will not be pushed around by the Jim Nookie's and Paxman's of BBC. Other seats will be found for future stars. Here and now the best option is to go for a thoroughbred. Apologies to B+C for trying to teach them to suck eggs.

UK Daily Pundit said...

Fiona Bruce would be perfect for this seat. Tim Collins definitely not. He reminds me of old school Tory's. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as they have at least a smidgeon of a personality and are'nt easily blown over in the wind. Eric Forth was one such Tory and i'm sure he would approve of feisty Fiona to replace him.

Anonymous said...

have good local candidate Colin Bloom

Greg said...

Tim Collins should not be "rewarded" for his performance at the last election with Bromley and Chislehurst. Certainly not until he has accepted that his defeat wasn't all to do with the mendacity of his Liberal opponents.

Pulsar said...

Collins-3.6% swing Con to LD-last time out!
Sandys-WHO?-this is no time to be indulging in a very public "on job" training programme.
Suspect what is needed is an experienced free thinking individual with Eric's gift for the facts!!!

www.freebritannia.com said...

Did you not consider putting your own name in the hat?

(Incidentally, I was at school with Tim Collins. Although he's three years older, I recall that he wasn't the most interesting person around.)

Anonymous said...

Damn right Iain! Will hope to spare some time after exams, by-elections are always good fun... but this should really not be taken for granted, thankfully i doubt it will.

Ellee Seymour said...

I think Tim Collins would be great, and he has proved himself in office with his Education remit.

I think it is wrong that MEPs are allowed to flit about in this fashion. It doesn't happen the other way round, an MP doesn't give up his/her seat to go to Brussels.

An MEP has surely made a pledge to represent their electorate and should serve his/her full term of office.

torylady said...

Ridiculous Egomaniac? For a minute there I thought you were talking about Chad Noble.

Tim Montgomerie said...

Good advice for B&C, Iain.

Nicholas Bennett has ruled himself out the race, though. He left this message on ConservativeHome last week:

"As a resident in Bromley and Chislehurst it would be a great honour to follow my friend and colleague Eric Forth as MP however I will not be putting my name forward. I was elected Chairman of Beckenham Constituency Association in March and elected a councillor for West Wickham on May 4th. My duty is to keep my commitment to the Association and the people of West Wickham.:

Anonymous said...

David Cameron joined Tim Collins,Eleanor Laing,Robert Halfon and a few minor local Conservatives for a dinner at the home of Collin's mother who leads Epping Forest District Council.Any clue here?

Anonymous said...

Who exactly will choose the next MP for Bromley and Chislehurst? I'm a member of the local association, but haven't been contacted yet. Is it only the local bigwigs who have a say?

Pulsar said...

Further thought-I suppose Collins falls into the same slot as Gove when on tv-they both look as if they have just escaped from the sixth form!!!

tony flaig said...

I think you should seriously consider Adam Ricketts he looks like the strongest contestant in the tory A-List, front page Kent on Sunday, page two in the Sunday Times week before, come on Chislehurst before Folkestone and Hythe snap him up.

Anonymous said...

I like Tim Collins. He speaks a lot of sense and does not seem (unlike too many other politicians) to be swayed by the softy wet wooly liberal consensus which is responsible IMO for so many of this country's woes.

Graeme Archer said...

I have met Syed once - he was very impressive. Solid, open-faced and just that indefinable "simpatico" feeling. He also backed up his words of encouragement with concrete offers of access to office facilities for struggling associations like ours - much appreciated. He would be great in parliament. If he is a fit with B&C then that would be great.

Tim Collins too is someone me and MR Keith always warmed to when he was on the media.

Whoever is selected, I agree that we all need to commit some time to get out on the streets and help them deliver. The worst thing to do is to assume that a safe seat is ours for the taking. I can't imagine losing it but we must fight to make sure the LibDems get stamped on and kept out of contention - no green shoots please for them.

dizzy said...

I assumed Liz Truss would be applying given she's an A Lister, a woman, and Bromley is virtually next door to where she is a councillor in Greenwich making her (sort of) local.

The TaxCutter said...

Given he lost his seat last year to a Lib Dem, Tim Collins is anything but a safe choice.

He must also take some of the blame for the lacklustre education policies in the 2005 manifesto.

Greg said...

Isn't he also personally associated with a number of the Conservatives' most high profile political disasters of recent times?

James Maskell said...

Liz Truss has been the one touted by some newspapers as the frontrunner.

Tony Flaig....no!

Daniel Vince-Archer said...

Good lord. Whoever would have thought there could be another ridiculous egomaniac called John Hemming(-Clark) in this world? Surely one is enough?

As for the ridiculous egomaniac you mention, I simply can't *ahem* imagine who you are referring to!

Voice from the South West said...

If Tim Collins fights Bromley and Chislehurst in the same way he fought Westmorland and Lonsdale then we can kiss goodbye to another safe Conservative seat. I also feel that he hasn't been able to accept himself personally that one of the reasons behind his defeat was his own actions and performance, and it looks like he hasn't learned from his defeat either.

Anoneumouse said...

media savvy' and in a phrase you have summed up the reason for the general public turning off politics.

The public are fed up of spin (they can now read between the lies), they want conviction politics with hard and fast policies. Actions not words.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I agree that the Tory Party cannot and should not take this By-Election for granted, but neither should it become neurotic about the prospects of losing it.

Let's be clear - it's at worst a two horse race between them and the LibDems and with the current opinion polls showing them enjoying twice the support of the support of their opponenents nationally,coupled with Ming's well reported difficulties, it remains very difficult to see how the Tories could lose in their heartland - it will surely take a great deal more than some swish LibDem campaign offices to convince the B&C electorate differently.

My advice someone to pick someone sound, safe and local.

Anonymous said...

What about Howard Flight? According to the telegraph, he is letting his name go forward. He would be the prefect man to take overthe mantle of Forth. And he is on the 'A' list.

Anonymous said...

Positively i think the choice should be of two very different Conservatives:-

Howard Flight or Derek Laud

Howard Flight is very hard working:- When he was placed in one of the shadow treasury positions a couple of years ago. I wrote to him (e-mailed him) about my concern of the tax credit abolishion on shares and the effects it had on pensions now and in the future. Howard Flight would be a good parliamentarian to follow in the vein of a master.

I am not a high net value individual or an opinion former of great significants but the guy wrote back to me in some depth about his plans in the future to raise the profile of this distorting labour government initiative. I think the bloke would be good to follow in Eric Forth's footsteps in B & C as he has good intelectual rigour - principle and loyality given the the A & C treatment before the last election.

Alternatively i would like to see a Derek Laud become the member for B & C - Why? He peronifies everything DC is trying to change the party for the better - He is also acceptable to the public, intellectually dynamic and principled. He would divery the tory party on two obvious fronts and has good party experience and contacts.

The person i would like least of all to run in B & C is that Tim Collins - the personification of Terresa May's Nasty party or that's how he presents himself- he is the worsed person to present at a by-election i can think there might be. He is a hatchet man - a norman tebbit like creature - he may be useful in government but in oppisition he is useless. To use the cameron phrase he is an analogue politian in a digital age!!! Until he undergoes an upgrade his worth in a by-election is as useful as a boat with holes in it.

Andrew Jones

Croydonian said...

Not Collins - please. He may well be sound, but his attempts to be a blue Campbell/Mandelson grate terribly.

Anonymous said...

"Follow the Money" Although Betfair have only recently opened a book on the B&C By-Election and to date a modest £1000 worth of bets have been matched, the current odds are approx:

Tories 1-4

LibDems 5-1

Although there's many a slip'twixt cup and lip, I believe this is what the racing fraternity would refer to as a one horse race!

Anonymous said...

Dale for Bromley!

Noel Slevin said...

Iain, I can understand why you're being so cautious, but I just don't see this seat changing hands. Tim Collins would be a good candidate though.

RememberRinka said...

If Tim Collins is looking for a winnable seat to fight might I suggest Westmoreland & C - think it needs only a tiny swing to go Conservative. C'mon Tim show your local committment and take the fight to the Limps in your old seat. Win it back.

The Limp Dems are praying that DC parachutes in an outsider & one they have beaten once already (who also looks & sounds very "old, pre DC Con") would be a bonus.

If DC wants a win he must look to Upminster. What matters here is not getting another witty speaker to Westminster (we do have enough already), all that matters is winning. To beat the Libs go with a safe local worthy. Who cares if he/she is never heard of again, what matters is winning the by-election and giving us +ve poll momentum and -ve mo to the Libs and Blair.

Get your westminster stars elected by selectng them for safe seats at the General election. The lib dems will make this a Local contest. The Cons must fight them with their own tactics not play into their hands.

Anonymous said...

Tim Collins is not the person you want in a fight with the LibDems, he completely screwed up westmerlond & lonsdale. He didnt even see it coming, he had no feel for his constituency, and allowed the liberals a free reign.

It was him, and him alone that lost that seat, he is specifically the kind of person we dont want

FellDweller said...

The seat that Collins lost at the last election had been moving towards the LimDems for a while, so, while he wasn't the most dynamic candidate, I think the credit should be given to the lib dem machine, (albeit grudgingly...)

Anonymous said...

Tim Collins was one of the few tories to increase the majority in 1997, however he let things slip over the following years and wasn't seen very much in W&L once he became a shadow minister. This allowed the Libdem to race arround the seat. He was told several times that he needed to be seen more often, or else could lose the seat. However he (& some of his local party) probably thought that a national swing would see them right. Others like David Davis & Theresa May raised their local profile. They increased their majorities and he lost his seat.

No doubt a London seat would suit Tim Collins but whether he deserves it is another matter

Croydonian said...

Fan though I am of Howard Flight, I fear that selecting him for B&C would A - spark a hissy fit from Michael Howard, and B - allow the Socialists to trot out the 'same old evil Tories' line. I would think it would be in Mr Flight's long term interest to lay comparatively low for now.

Greg said...

Tim Collins was one of the few tories to increase the majority in 1997

Eh?

Harry Hayfield said...

I did read somewhere that you fancied a bit of a go actually.

Anonymous said...

Might be a point to get in touch with the local newspaper and warn them that their name be taken in vain:

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/article/270406/editor_outraged_at_lib_dems_claim_of_papers_endorsement

That as well as get them to expose fake polls the Liberals say have been carried out, scaremongering about closures and threats to pensioners and smear like insinuations towards other candidates.

Expose the liars and the voters will then not be fooled by them.

Iain Dale said...

Harry, well I've not read that - and I've not said it! Love to know where you saw it though.

Anonymous said...

Iain - Interesting that you're not denying an interest either!

Iain Dale said...

In other circumstances I would loved to have had a go, but seeing as I am not on the A List it's all rather academic anyway!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
David Cameron joined Tim Collins,Eleanor Laing,Robert Halfon and a few minor local Conservatives for a dinner at the home of Collin's mother who leads Epping Forest District Council.Any clue here?

Well I seem to remember 200 other people being at this dinner as well. That is hardly a few, for a supper to sort out the future of Bromley & Chislehurst.

Paul Linford said...

Jonathan Calder has an excellent piece here on why Tim Collins possibly did more damage to the Tory Party than any other individual in the 1992-97 Parliament.

I'll give you a clue: Back to Basics.

Anonymous said...

"Tim Collins was one of the few tories to increase the majority in 1997"

You have been misinformed there. Collins succeeded Michael Jopling in the seat and the majority fell by some 12,000 to around 4,000 in 1997, slipped further in 2001 before being lost in 2005.

Anonymous said...

Iain - when they say constituencies can choose a "local" candidate, have they defined it? I mean are you restricted to Tunbridge Wells, or can you stand anywhere in Kent or what?

Martin Hoscik said...

What's your reaction to the news that Bob Neill has been selected?

As an impartial outsider he's always struck me as a decent guy and from what I've seen of him at London Assembly meetings pretty switched on.

With Eric Forth's majority it seems pretty likely Mr Neill is going to Westminster!