Jonathan Sheppard (of Tory Radio fame) has written a good article on Comment is Free about the 'A' List HERE. These are his concluding paragraphs.
...There are going to be some very disgruntled candidates who feel they have somehow been rejected. For them, more work needs to be done centrally to offer some sort of alternative career path. The party can't afford to lose its most active members, and it would be short-sighted to let these people drift away.
Local associations have already been given the freedom to select "local candidates", and this is right. Sometimes local people know best who should represent them. A more positive step is the use of primaries, where the local community can take ownership of the selection process.
One failing of the A-list has been that not enough candidates have applied for seats the party needs to win if it is to form a government. Associations have been faced with only a handful of applicants, and that can't be a positive step. If, as I believe, localism is important, why not let any candidate on the approved list apply for any seats in the region where they live? That way associations can be presented with a range of candidates, with the winner knowing they achieved their position on one criteria only: merit.
For me, the A-list does not matter: I was only ever going to apply for seats in the region where I was born and bred, and that remains the case. If the party is prepared to be flexible with the A-list to actively encourage good local candidates, then I believe the party will hopefully not only have excellent candidates selected: it will then be rewarded with many new excellent MPs at the next general election."
Jonathan is representative of many of my friends. They're in their early thirties and fought a seat last time. They are feeling pretty abandoned and demotivated. They see themselves being overtaken by people who are new to the Party and have no track record. Quite naturally they are asking: should I bother any longer? I am constantly urging them not to give up, to stick with it as you never know what's round the corner. But these are pretty hollow words if little is done by the Centre to demonstrate that these people have a future. Since the original 'A' List correspondence I think I am right in saying that not a single letter or email has been sent out to non 'A' List candidates, apart from those exhorting them to help in various by-elections. Some candidates have not even been alerted to the fact that a seat in their locality is selecting - should candidates really have to learn about this from ConservativeHome? This is not the way to keep people motivated.
There needs to be a complete rethink about the way the Party communicates with its candidates - who are, after all, the 'poor bloody infantry'.
Jonathan Sheppard is right to highlight the benefits of being allowed to select local candidates. His suggestion that candidates should be allowed to apply for seats in their own region is a good one, and one I believe is being considered by the Party. It should be adopted. In that way, every candidate currently on the Approved List can feel they have a future and a real chance of being selected.
I learned yesterday that I have been put on the 'A' List. I've not made a big song and dance about it and don't intend to. And it won't affect what I write on this blog. End of.