Monday, November 27, 2006

Open Primary Campaigning Gains Momentum

The Open Primary system for selecting Conservative candidates has not been universally popular, but it has changed the way potential candidates have to operate. In days gone by it was seen as a little 'off colour' for a candidate to canvass support during the selection process. Nowadays it seems to be de rigueur in Open Primaries.

Recently I saw a leaflet by Alan Mendoza who had applied for Harrow East, which was delivered to 15,000 houses in the constituency urging Conservatives and non Conservatives alike to attend the final Open Primary meeting. 'A' Lister Vicky Ford has gone one step further and launched a blog to support her candidacy for Basildon & East Thurrock. The final is on Thursday. You can see her blog HERE. It's a very good site but it's a risk for her. It should be seen as 'a good thing' and indicate how she will campaign as a candidate, but she will know that such overt campaigning could count against her with the more traditional elements in the local Party.


Andrew said...

The problem with 'open' primaries as implemented by the boy Dave is that they are open to everyone - unlike in the United States, where those that wish to participate in such primaries at least have to register themselves publicly as a registered Democrat supporter or as a registered Republican supporter - which at least restricts participation to those who are willing to declare their party loyalty. Right now, the system is open to abuse by making it easy for oppostion parties to influence Conservative candidate choices to their own benefit. If we did it like the Americans do it then it'd be a great system.

Anonymous said...

You're wrong on that - all candidates in open primaries are expected to campaign now to prove to residents how hard they will fight the seat. It's not just in Basildon but in most open primaries - you get a budget and it's up to you how you spend it - leaflet, blog or both.

A good test for candidates and Vicky Ford's blog seems absolutely excellent - she'd get my vote

Anonymous said...

Why is Ms Ford scared of writing Mrs Thatcher in her most recent entry?

Is this the cameroon way now?

Anonymous said...

It's an excellent blog and I hope that when she is selected (be it for this seat or elsewhere) Vicky will continue to blog.

Not sure that setting up a blog counts as "going a step further" than printing and delivering 15000 leaflets, though!

David Lindsay said...

In the course of each Parliament, each party at constituency level should submit its final shortlist of two potential PPCes to an independent and binding ballot of all registered voters in that constituency, and each party nationally should submit its shortlist of two potentail Leaders (i.e., putative PMs) to such a ballot across the whole United Kingdom.

As things stand, the tiny number of votes to be cast in impending Labour Leadership Election, effectively appointing the Prime Minister, will be but a writing large of the scandal in most constituences, where at best a handful of aged activists (of whichever party), and as often as not two or three apparatchiki in a London office, simply appoint the MP for a safe seat.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, the Party is trying to attract candidates from all walks of life. The 'expected to campaign' bit (anon at 4:31) and the 'you get a budget' shows how ridiculous the whole thing has become. The £300 budget comes out of the candidate's pocket, so if a candidate starts getting into several finals then it can become a very expensive business - see how that appeals to our poorer candidates. I hope Vicky Ford will declare the cost of her blog site, the leaflets, time off work and petrol she spent 'honey-beeing' around the constituency. I assume she risks instant disqualification if she breaks her budget? For a candidate to scrutinize the costs of a Labour or Lib-Dem candidate at a General or local election is one thing but things are getting a bit rum when it is Tory on Tory. Lets hope none of the other candidates in Basildon ask her for her receipts...

Anonymous said...

What happened to the post regarding the Conservative awards?

Anonymous said...

Iain, what's happened to your "Conservatives Sweep the Board at PSA Awards" post? I can see it on Bloglines, but it's been deleted from your blog

Iain Dale said...

Glass House, they gave me the wrong embargo. They said Mon 12 noon so I wrote it up. It turns out they actually meant Tuesday. So I have taken it off until tomorrow. I know it will still be on caches etc, but there you go! It will reappear tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm no detective but I have to say the words 'fraud' and 'deception' comes to mind. I decided to see how many hits Vicky was getting on her blog. She got three, to which she replied to 2. That is good. What is not good is her blog for 27/11/06, 'Today I went to...' posted at 06:56. The photo shows her standing there is broad daylight. Now I know Essex is in the east of our great country but even I know that the sun was not shining at 06:56! I rest my case M'lud...

Anonymous said...

Will anyone at all vote for a woman who doen't know how to wrap a picture on the web:

ay I
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Anonymous said...

a blog one step further? Hardly the case. 15,000 leaflets will alert those who would never visit a blog.

Anonymous said...

we have an open primary here in Carlisle, a week on tuesday. We had five candidates to narrow down to three, a sizable number of A Listers.

However, it was the only man on the list, who happened to not get on the A list, who gave the best presentation......

Anonymous said...

I had one of Vicky's leaflets through the door on Saturday - Vicky and her supporters out and about during rain showers delivering leaflets stopping and talking to people. What have the other 3 candidates done? Several neighbours have commented already about the leaflets and what its all about! And yes it does show what she would be like campaigning in the constituency. She is everything Angela Smith isnt!

Anonymous said...

Re anonymous 5.47pm.

It appears that the time on Vickys blog is set at Pacific Standard Time - So the post you refer to was made at 14.56PM GMT but appears on the blog at 06.56AM PCT.

This is a problem using American based blog sites and forgetting to change the time to UK time. Just check out the comments and see they are PCT time not GMT time.

Pehaps a little bit more detective work before posting allegations of 'fraud' and 'deception'.

So you do not 'Rest you case' - apology in order?

Anonymous said...

I am becoming more and more cynical about the open primary and the risks and opportunties it poses for abuse and malpractice.
If I take the Truro and Falmouth selection which was held in the early autumn, it was one of the first to use the open primary system- I believe the criteria being that membership was less than 299.
It was a political arena which had suffered the ravages of splits and infighting between conservative members during and after the tragic incumbency of Ashley Crossley and which has continued to nosedive into the voids of political impotency.
Today the area is sensitive and rife with rumour and gossip that a Family coup-de-tat had effectively used the historical tory connections at branch level to nobble the selection committee and eventually the Open Primary.It is very easy to infitrate open primaries with friends,relatives and voting pals to ensure success.Nothing can be proved at this stage but a few loose toungues are excerbating the spiralling and deafening political chatter in the area.I attended the evenings open primary and could easily deduce that something was amiss. Only time will tell as to the affect it will have on Tory support in the area though I am convinced a disaster of fraud may come to light somewhere else in the country.

Anonymous said...

"I hope Vicky Ford will declare the cost of her blog site, the leaflets, time off work and petrol she spent 'honey-beeing' around the constituency"

I doubt any of these cost Vicky very much except time and effort.

The most important thing if open primaries are to mean anything in terms of increasing public participation and selecting people who are in tune both with the associations and the local electorate is to maximise turnout. For this reason I would strongly support candidates showcasing themselves in this way and trying to encourage public involvement in the selection process. For exactly the same reasons I suspect some local associations will be highly suspicious of the whole process.

The proof of the pudding will be in (1) the turnout at the open primary, (2) The willingness of the associations to work with candidates selected in this way (who may not have been their first choice) (3) The result on election day and (4) Whether people selected by open primary are able to have better relationships with their electorate and make better MPs than those selected along more conventional grounds. We won't know the answer for some time, but I think it is probably a good thing and certainly an innovation worth pursuing

Anonymous said...

also vis a vis "packing the room" I dont see why this is any more of an issue at an open primary than at an SGM. If a candidate can mobilise enough local support to vote for them and get them selected that's not cheating, its effective politics, (no matter how bad the taste left in the losers' mouths). It just gives everyone more incentive to maximise turnout so that if anyone can pack the room sufficiently well to change the result they will have already demonstrated a strong local power base.

Anonymous said...

Vicky Ford appears to have been the only candidate actively lobbying Joe Public and party supporters.

Of the other 3 candidates I know nothing.

I will leave it to the day to decide who gets my vote but Vicky Ford is the only candidate to show initiative and to show the association how hard she will work.