Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Save Sir Patrick Campaign Starts Here

Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack is facing deselection by his contituency Party. his Executive Council voted against him by a narrow margin to leave the 67 year old Parliamentarian facing a vote of the whole Association.

Sir Patrick, who has been an MP since 1970 says he will not take this lieing down. He got a 9.4% swing at the last election and has indicated that if he is not reselected he would stand as an Independent candidate.

This must not be allowed to happen. I have no idea what has prompted this situation, and for all I know there may be good reasons, but Sir Patrick is a great contributor to Parliamentary life and has even been talked about as the next Speaker. I am tempted to start the SAVE SIR PATRICK campaign. Any takers?!

UPDATE: You can now join the Reselect Sir Patrick Cormack Group on Facebook HERE.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Err.... Wouldnt it be better to have all the facts to hand before going down this road?

J-Rizzle said...

Not really! I agree that he's a great Parliamentarian and one genuinely worthy of respect, even if we differ politically, but when someone's done best part of 40 years in Parliament you have to think they've achieved everything they can.

I'm not sure we can blame the Exec for wanting a fresh start.

Neil Craig said...

He will be about 75 by the end of the next term. He has served since 1970, presumably with the support of his constituency party & splitting the vote does not seem to repay their loyalty to him.

Lets see what his constitueants say.

chatterbox said...

"I am tempted to start the SAVE SIR PATRICK campaign. Any takers?!"
Count me in, I can't believe this!
As a sad anorak who spends too much time watching the parliament channel, I can 2nd your view about him being a great contributor to parliamentary life who would be an excellent speaker of the House.
What is going on in that constituency association because it can't be a complaint about his lack of activity in the House of Commons? I don't think I have ever seen my old MP evening sitting in the House during a debate!

Ben Sherreard said...

I'll join that campaign! I applied for a job in his office and he was one of the only people that bothered writing a nice letter back (it still said no though!)

Matthew Maxwell Scott said...

I would like to see Sir Patrick saved. I worked for him throughout my gap year (1994-5) and again during a summer holiday at university and so have some insight.

His credentials as a parliamentarian and a parliamentary historian should not be in any doubt.

But I also saw his tireless work as a constituency MP, whose loyalty to his area should serve as an example to any prospective MP, and no doubt many existing ones.

He works extremely long days and will never allow a letter to go unanswered: the size of his postbag reflected this.

Aside from his record as an MP, I have throughout the time I have known him found him to be generous, kind and thoughtful, and always his own man.

I have no idea what local politics are at play here, but it is sad that any of them have to become public as this benefits no-one.

This all looks a bit gushing, but I have great admiration and respect for this servant of the people.

Anonymous said...
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HF said...

What is clear is that he must have not put enough effort into his constituency to ensure that he has the support of his Executive.

My guess is he failed to turn up to enough events and nurture the Branches that provide the Exec members.

A constituency that keeps winning can slump into a form of neglect and it is essential that an MP ensures that their organisation is in a fit state.

He probably took them for granted and all it takes is a few determined activists who bother to actually turn up to the Exec meeting, to move against him.

The real question is why his supporters did not turn up and vote for him at the Exec meeting? Sloth?

Marquee Mark said...

Perhaps the Association is hoping to parachute in a fresh-faced forty-something blogger....?

Given that the British population as a whole is ageing, then we should also add some balance - and stop the head-long rush to fill Parliament with thirty year old career politicos who quite frankly know bugger all about bugger all.

Sir Patrick would make an excellent Speaker. Or perhaps we should expect the next Speaker to be chosen from amongst the Rodents of Chav, sat in a silver shell suit with Burberry designer cap?

What are they thinking?

Kate said...

It's impossible to comment on the South Staffordshire situation without the facts, but there does seem to be a more general problem of MPs being in a 'job for life' once selected, particularly in safe seats.

It might be better all round if the presumption was that MPs are only selected for one term at a time and a full selection process held before every General Election, rather than the expectation that once selected, their re-selection is just a formality until they take the decision to step down.

Anonymous said...

Might this have come from 'the centre'? The 'Head Office' want to see a Tory party which is more representative of society, with more women and ethnic minorities being chosen as candidates.

This is a good thing, but as with large corporations the consequence may be that in the 'graduate recruitment' stream, they have to take on large numbers of these groups to help move things along. Especially if the organisation has a low staff turnover.

It may simply be that whilst he is an excellent MP, he is seen, to use that awful phrase, 'bed-blocking' the chances of improving diversity of the Tory party at Westminster, even though this is something he no doubt thinks is a very good thing.

It is rather difficult for the Tory party to want to make the changes Cameron would like, for the best of reasons, without casualties to 'unintended consequences. Good to see Iain has his 'finger on the pulse' of these sort of issues.

mark williams said...
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Will said...

Threatening to stand as an independent isn't the most obvious way to talk your association into backing you...

Chuck Unsworth said...
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Stuart Bruce said...

Iain I'm assuming you must know more than you've published. On principle I'm uneasy about the concept of deselections in any party. However, if he really said he would stand as an independent then he forfeits all possible support and sympathy.

Tom said...
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Philipa said...

Iain, surely it's important to know why there's talk of him being deselected. Can you not find out? After all, you may have just added to his embarassment.

Iain Dale said...

How have I done that then?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, no Iain.

I have nothing personal against Sir Patrick, but I do think that aged MPs past retirement age who fail to impress should make way for the fresh talent that will help us form the next government.

Also, this 9.4% swing is a bit misleading. His victory occured 6/7 weeks after the general election and turnout was only 37.3% - rather than 60%. His % share of the vote actually only increased by 1.5%, while Labours dropped by almost 17%.

It is clear to me that most Labour voters stayed at home, knowing that the election was decided and their votes were irrelevant, whilst Tory voters cast their votes as normal.

I don't think his performance was anything special at all.

Still, worthy of a peerage nomination by Cameron for party service?

Snafu said...

Why is Sir Patrick so keen to be returned when I thought MPs struggled to make ends meet with salaries of just £59,000 per annum!?!

Now that he is over 65, can't he just retire and let someone else feed at the trough!

Adrian Moss said...
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UK Daily Pundit said...

It would be an ideal seat for Adam Rickitt.

ordinary woman said...

with regard to MPs reflecting the electorate

as the population is ageing

surely he is doing just that?

If MPs are all young and without much life experience (money and sex do not necessarily equate experience -or only a limited type)
who will represent the larger part of the electorate?

However, we do need to know why they wish to deselect him
(and I do comment as an older voter)

mens sana said...

I have always thought it is very unfortunate that constituency conservative party execs have the responsibility for selecting or deselecting candidates or MPs, as they are often the least appropriate group to do so, and are very prone to factional infighting and small town personality politics. I also think that a minority of them have a rather unhealthy enjoyment of this power as their only chance to make the news and feel important

They are however the people who on the whole have to do the legwork of campaigning on the ground, so deserve to have their opinions taken seriously: It is such an odd decision that I can't believe there isn't more to this than meets the eye. No doubt details will emerge in due course...

Bed Clearer said...

No takers. He is a pompous old egotist who will probably be in his 70s by the time of the next election.

His threats to run as an independent - so much for being a party loyalist - and his self-centred declaration to the exec. that he wanted to be Father of the House and possibly Speaker (fat chance) demonstrate his unsuitability.

Sir Patrick could so easily have retired with dignity but he's a geriatric chancer who wanted to impose himself for eight more years. Well done to South Staffs for not buying it.

Dave said...

I'm sure he's a very nice chap, but how does him becoming Speaker benefit those who elect him?
And this is a quote from the man himself on the ePolitix website

"Please note that I cannot respond to emails. Over my twenty one years in parliament I have, I believe, established a reputation as a conscientious constituency MP who readily responds to his constituents. As I receive anything up to forty letters a day from constituents the service that I give could only suffer if I also responded to emails. If, therefore, you wish to contact me you should either write to me or telephone my constituency office. "

Times change, but Sir P hasn't.

Anonymous said...

Is it to make way for another little boy like Osborne or even Cameron himself?

Helen said...

Well, surely, this is nobody's business but that of the local association.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS ON 'PM' NOW !!!!

Anonymous said...

A bloke with a thick Black Country accent is on, talking bollocks to Eddie Mair.

Anonymous said...

Sir Peter is on, and he's 'perplexed'..

judith said...
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Anoneumouse said...
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Our Greatest Living Parliamentarian said...

The link to the facebook group does not work and I so want to join it.

Iain Dale said...

It does now!

mitch said...

We must bow to Matthew Maxwell Scott's personal experience of Sir Patrick, but personally I've never been that impressed by him.

He tries to play the old patrician tory but doesn't quite achieve it for me. The conservative back benches used to be full of that kind of M.P. and he just isn't up to their standard.

Every time I see him I'm reminded of Billy Bunter.

Age and length of service don't necessarily equal ability.

Martin Hoscik said...

Sir Patrick is one of Parliament's best speakers IMO.

I don't always agree with what he says but it's generally clear a lot of thought has gone into what's being said - not something which can be said about all MPs.

Crossfire said...
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Captain Mainwaring said...

I can't claim to know Sir Patrick well but he has always struck me as being a latter day Captain Mainwaring.

He has never been less than pompous (did he not himself say he would try not to be too pompous when making his 'Vote Me Speaker' speech!), has never held ministerial office, has no great achievement to his name and has consistently sucked up to Tony Blair whilst criticising his own leaders.

Today he tells the BBC that the newer members of his local party have an agenda and that "I'm not sure exactly what it is". Indeed - perhaps that might help explain the result!

That said, he has added greatly to the gaiety of the nation, not least by all the copy he has given sketchwriters.

Long may that continue!

mitch said...

Just checked Giles Brandreth's diary and he describes Cormack as a 'Sir Bufton Tufton' figure. I think that about sums him up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, SAVE SIR PATRICK1

And just why is a 67 year old MP with 36 years experience, one who gained a 9.4% swing, having to fight deselection?

Might it be that that those of pension age are not really welcome the new Conservatives?

Could that also be why so many of 40 and upwards seem to be drifting away from webcameron?

Perhaps the greater experience of older bods makes some of Cameron's young blades feel a wee bit too threatened and twitchy?

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

Whatever does this taking things "lieing down" business mean? Is it telling 'Campbells' or something more exotic? We should be told!
My Shorter Oxford offers no explantions.

Anonymous said...

"I agree that he's a great Parliamentarian and one genuinely worthy of respect"
Errr...Have you met this man?
I have and I can assure you he is all pomp and no circumstance!

James said...

It is not generally for constituency parties to deselect MPs. It is for the electorate. It should be the electorate who has the MP's first loyalty and their energies should be directed at pleasing them.

I would make two exceptions. Firstly, extreme misconduct where the MP's reselection threatens the reputation of the party. Secondly, where the candidate has been so disloyal that the party label has become a misrepresentation.

Like him or not, neither applies to Patrick Cormack. I am sure members will back him, but fear this has blown his chance to be speaker by making him a "controversial" character.

paige said...

I feel Sorry for him, I've heard him speak in the house on many occasions.
I can't help but think it will be to get one of Camerons A listers in...No doubt they'll be NU Labour, so the party is worse for the descision.. Unless they bring in an Anti EU A-lister and traitor though I maybe I'll be quite content and more inclind to vote for them in the election!

Geoff said...

He has always struck me a plodding incumbent who would never get anywhere far - given a "K" as compensation and allowed to quietly polish the green leather benches until his retirement.

This must have come as a nasty shock - not just for him but for quite a few of our backbenchers in the same position who might now be getting nervous.

Firstly, we mustn't stand in the way of a local Assoc from making a local decision for whatever reasons they see fit.

Secondly, all my sympathy dissolved with the threat to stand as an Independent. A genuine Tory would accept the verdict, fight it from within with dignity and if necessary step aside.

Is he that keen on being Speaker?

Wozza said...

I am sure that he has been a fine MP but it is surely up to his local association, those who should know him best and who he does after all represent, to make that decision. It is the risk that every sitting Conservative MP takes. If, for whatever reason, his local association feel that it is time for a change, then so be it but it is surely not the place of people from outside the constituency, however well meaning, to take up the cause in his defence.

Lady Finchley said...

Dave,

He is very wise not to reply by email - any MP worth his salt know that. Emails can be edited and doctored and it has been the rule in every MP's office in which I have worked only to acknowledge emails but to ask for their postal address. Also, emailers think they can go to the top of the queue. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. This is has nothing to do with being old or a luddite - it is just plain good sense.

I knew all the ageist crap would kick in. Right, why don't we just start herding everybody over 30 in camps like they did in the 60's movie 'Wild In the Streets'.

Anonymous said...

"And just why is a 67 year old MP with 36 years experience, one who gained a 9.4% swing, having to fight deselection?"

I suggest you read my comment of 1.48pm yesterday.

This alleged "9.4% swing" he "achieved" is nothing of the sort.

David Boothroyd said...

Do not underestimate Sir Patrick's contribution to the incredibly brilliant History of Parliament Trust. Nor his thoughtful contribution to the debate on 4 June 2003 over Iraq. Although any contributions from a Labour councillor like myself might be the kiss of death, I'm appalled that his executive have tried to get rid of Sir Patrick Cormack.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to hear the radio interview on the BBC yesterday between Sir Patrick and was it his Executive Chair, Cllr David Bilson.

When asked what Sir Patrick's greatest achievement was, Cllr Bilson said he could not say - he had only been in the local association for 8 years and was not aware of Sir Patrick's earlier record!!!

Says it all really...

54 year old late developer said...

I can't comment on Sir Patrick's personal merits or demerits but people over 70 are significantly under-represented in the House of Commons in relation to their presence in the overall population.

If it's important for Parliament to "look like Britain" then elderly MPs who are physically and mentally capable of coping with the workload should be begged to stay on not harassed to retire.

Anonymous said...

Ah, so it was 'Cllr' David Bilson who was the thick bloke with the Black Country accent. He didn't strike me as being first in line when brains were handed out, but that is just my natural prejudice against that awful accent. At least Sir Patrick speaks English with clarity & precision.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that these alleged attempts to get the dreadfully titled 'bed blockers' removed and replaced by A-listers is a mark of desperation that the next election is not going to be good for Conservative candidates so they have to move out distinguished and long-serving MPs in order to secure their own future?

If the putsch against Sir Patrick proves successful, who will be next? Sir Peter Tapsell? Kenneth Clarke?

Peter Smallwood said...
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Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Sir Winston Churchill who said that in a democracy one is enough?

Even so, it surely cannot be right that a small group of what would appear to be infiltrators can deselect a parliamentarian of such stature, seniority and length of service as Sir Patrick.

I for one hope Sir Patrick rallies his forces and is able to marshall them successfully to fight off this dastardly attack.

Philipa said...

Iain, you may have added to his embarassment because he may have been deselected for a purely personal but embarassing reason. Untill we know why he's been deselected it begs the question. I mean it could be anything! And something he'd rather keep quiet about. You could phone him and ask. Or phone them and ask. Let your fingers do the walking.

John B Dick said...

Tell him to speak to Denis Canavan. It's not quite the same perhaps since DC had the support of his constituency association.

DC was not allowed on the cadidates list for the Scottish Parliament despite being about seven times before the voters in the constituency. It was said that there was hardly a family in the constituency who didn't know someone who had been helped by him over the years. He stood as a member of the "MP for Falkirk West" party.

So look at the record for Falkirk West. Which MSP has the largest majority in the Scottish parliament and more than half of the popular vote? You guessed it.

Under the regional list system DC could have actually taken a regional or a constituency seat the first time. He was elected twice over!

Then there is Margo Macdonald, thrown out by the SNP.

A popular constituency MP of independent mind can get elected in Scotland if there is an injustice in deselection. Thousands, yes thousands! of people who abhor Denis Canavan's left wing views have voted for him time after time.

Then we should remember Lord Sorensen. Harold Wilson's would-be Foreign Secretary failed to get elected. Sorensen was booted out to the Lords (picked by age x majority)just after the general election, and Labour lost the seat.

thatcher said...

is it me or does sir Patrick look to put on a few pounds since last year!