Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cameron Re-opens Tory Candidates List

David Cameron has just announced on Andrew Marr that he is reopening the Conservative candidates list and encouraging new people to apply to become Conservative MPs. He said he was asking people who've never been involved in politics or the Conservative Party to apply. When you consider that there are already many hundreds of people on the list, who will have comparatively few seats to fight over, they will undoubtedly see it as a bit of a snub. But they shouldn't. The A List is effectively dead. If constituencies agree to hold open primaries they don't use the A List, and I imagine now that all seats will be forced to hold open primaries anyway. It's important that the process is opened up as much as possible and that the best people around are put forward to constituencies to select.

One result of opening up the candidates list is that the selection of new candidates might be delayed until the autumn. I'm not sure that would be a good idea. We are so close to an election now that constituencies need to get candidates in place as soon as possible. Whoever is chosen in constituencies like Gosport, Bracknell and Sleaford needs as long as possible to 'bed in'.

Cameron's interview with Marr was superb. He came across as a real leader, a compassionate human being and a man with ideas. Marr didn't lay a glove on him, although to be fair he didn't really try to. Most important of all, Cameron displayed that he understands the real anger the electorate is feeling.


James Burdett said...

I suspect Iain that very few new people will be added and that of those that are very few will find their way to a seat.

Stef said...

Is this your time Iain?!!

Victor, NW Kent said...

David Cameron is listening to Tory grass roots. That is wise.

We need more locally based MPs - not bright young things parachuted into safe seats.

As for your misgivings Iain, I will say that where there is a will, there is away. Set out to do something with a good heart and it is likely that you succeed.

Any Tory candidates, MPs, activists or councillors who persist in swimming upstream deserve to sink. This is the time of a revolution in thinking about our political scene.

Cameron did very well this morning on Marr's show. He is well ahead of the game compared with the other party leaders and as each day passes my respct for him increases.

Anonymous said...

Associations do not have to use the "A" list, period. There is absolutely nothing the Party can do to force Associations to select by Open Primary either.

The only requirement if they choose to select from the entire Approved List is that there must be 50/50 male/female candidates at each stage of the process.

Any Association Chairman who is in any doubt about this and who faces pressure from CCHQ on the matter should consult with their Area or Regional Officers who should be unequivocal in supporting the Association's rights on this.

Mark Thompson said...

Iain, I was intrigued to see comments in your Andrew MacKay thread asking if you might go for Bracknell.

I would imagine as a constituency where one of your good friends is the outgoing MP you would be well positioned (under the old system anyway).

Of course that would then mean that I would be campaigning against you as a Lib Dem here in Bracknell and you could end up as my MP. Having observed your progress in the blogosphere and through various media (18 Doughty Street, TP and MSM stuff) for the last few years that would be a weird situation.

I am sure you are not going to tell me what your intentions are but if they do hold an open primary I will certainly come along.

strapworld said...

Still central control. WHEN will they just allow local associations to choose who they wish. Preferably a local candidate, not one shipped in from the Outer Hebrides with no connection to the constituency!

Cameron talks about local democracy yet denies them the right to choose WHOM THEY want as an MP.

I bet they still have to go to the hotel at great expense to see if they eat correctly and do not fart in bed!

Wake up Mr Cameron. Embrace change and allow local associations the right to choose without central interference.

The A B C D E lists are anti democratic.

A Cynic said...

My immediate thought was that this was a tactic to reduce the number of independents standing and being elected in preference to those with party allegiance.

Plato said...

Victor - spot on.

The parties are clogged by nepotism and old mates - I would be furious if my MP were outed only to be replaced by someone brought in from outside.

For me that is the heart of the matter - you live in the place you serve.

Duncan Cookson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dick the Prick said...

Good man - put a bit of vigour into it all.

mark said...

Choosing a local candidate would hopefully lead to more independently minded candidates i.e those who will not always be whipped into submissive voting, but may be prepared to listen to the will of their constituents. Hopefully this could contribute towards a new era of politicians with a voice, and move away from the insular network as still exists in parliament/local politics.

Or, I could just be a daydreaming idealist, and the reality will be that those who have the loudest voices and the most influential friends will win the day. That has been human nature for many thousands of years after all..!

50 Calibre said...

What's that about gift horses and looking into their mouths and real opportunity knocking only once in a lifetime?

What is a gift horse anyway and why would you want to look into its mouth, unless you are a vet perhaps...

Anonymous said...

I would like to say something about "local candidates".

I am on the approved list of candidates for the Conservatives and I live in Chingford. My MP is Iain Duncan-Smith and he isn't going anywhere.

To the north of me is Epping Forest, also with a Tory MP who isn't going anywhere anytime soon, same to the East and West.

To the south are two of the safest Labour seats in the country, even in todays climate.

I cannot be a "local candidate" unless I push my MP under a bus! What is "local"? Waltham Forest? Essex? London? Maybe my birthplace, Yorkshire? Not lived there for twenty years ut I go back to see my Dad every couple of months, does that count?

This whole "local candidate" thing is another example of people holding two contradictory views at the same time without seeing the conflict.

Do you want somebody who will make a good MP, possibly even a minister in Government (who will spend almost all their time in London), or do you want a local? In many cases, you cannot have both.

We either have open selections, or we discriminate against people becasue they come from "somewhere else".

Old Holborn said...

Old Holborn is going to perform a citizens arrest on the guilty MPs. June 1st, 9am, Parliament. Bring cameras

Ken Haylock said...

John Moss... I don't think anybody has an inalienable right to be an MP or even a candidate for any national party in any constituency, safe, winnable or hopeless, whoever has 'approved' them. But also whether or not they are the incumbent. Whether IDS is doing a good job or a bad one of being your MP, for as long as he is a Tory, is still breathing (on his own or with mechanical assistance) and isn't caught with his hand either in the till or in the wrong person's underwear, he will presumably continue to draw a salary as MP for Chingford for as long as he wants to or until the final division bell tolls, even if ten, a hundred, a thousand potentially 'better' Tory candidates /MPs are standing impatiently behind him waiting for him to shuffle off this mortal coil, politically or otherwise.

This again makes the case for open primaries. Clearly if IDS is still the best Tory candidate for Chingford he should have no trouble defeating you in an open primary. Conversely if he is past his sell-by date, you should be able to expose that at the hustings and win the chance to take his job. For IDS, being the incumbent would be an electoral blessing if he had done a good job and a curse if he had done a poor one.

The other benefit of open primaries is that while as a local you would have some chance of wrestling the Tory candidacy in Chingford away from IDS at the ballot box, the likelihood of you being able to win an open primary competing against a range of local potential candidates for parliament in A N Other Tory seat is greatly diminished (but also not eliminated entirely).

At the end of the day it will always be the case that more people aspire to political office than can ever attain it, and the arbiter of who gets a shot at the job shouldn't be 'who showed the most naked and unedifyingly, graspingly unprincipled personal ambition' but who the electorate are most impressed by.

neil craig said...

I thought Marr laid a fairly heavy glove on him on the issue of what happens to the refererndum if if the Constitreaty is ratified before the Tories get firmly in power.

One further option here is that if the Tories are the biggest single party the LDs will only have to drag their feet over a referendum for a short while before it becomes a dead isue.

Anonymous said...

If there is an open primary for Nadine Dorries seat, I will put myself forward

dearieme said...

If Marrslicker didn't try to lay a glove on him he's probably calculating that Cameron will be PM soon and so it's worth sucking up to him.

howard thomas said...

DC came accross well on the dodgy MPs issue----but where Marr "did lay a glove on him" was on the issue of an EU referendum.
DC failed to answer clearly that Conservative policy will only provide that referendum in the event that there is a Conservative government in place in time to do so.
After that(and it is very likely to become the case) there will be no referendum.
If DC is so in touch with the voters of the UK he will know that the electorate want and deserve a say on our future level of membership of the EU. no matter which way the Irish vote or when a general election comes!!!

Dimoto said...

Marr failed in his usual tactic against Conservative spokesmen, of constantly interrupting them.
Cameron just carried on speaking through Marr's indignant squeaks.
Cameron has evidently learned from last time.
Today we had Marr (Scot) with invited guests Scott (Scot) and Kennedy (Scot), then the first featured guest arrived, Jackie Stewart (Scot).
Hasn't this whole positive discrimination thing in favour of Scots in the media and politics moved way beyond a joke?
Cameron was probably only interviewed 'cos Marr had him pegged as another Scot !

Wight Tory said...

Seems to me the comment for more peeps to join the Tories was a big bear trap to get the flunking cist to call a snap election, the thinking being that the Conservatives aren't ready.

WV: tanies, almost brownies

Ollie said...

He did well for sure, but the idea of asking anyone to apply to become a Tory MP smacks of odious levels of populism and pandering.

There is no chance that someone with no previous commitment to the party, understaning of its principles and belief in its ideals will get selected.

More importantly such people shouldn't get selected by the party. It is such a cheap, headline grabbing gimmick that smacks of desperation when the party doesn't truely need it.

Everyone has the right to become an MP, there is no question about that. But to be a party MP you do need a strong commitment and belief in that party and that only comes through time and serious consideration on behalf of the candidate and the selectors.

I would glady welcome an increase in independant voices in Parliament, but parties should be comprised of loyal people and not people selected to make the party seem as though it is in touch with people in such a contrived, artificial way.

Contrived artifice does seem to the Cameron modus operandi though...

Tim Worstall said...


When I was talking to Nigel Farage of UKIP, I said to him, “But the Conservatives are offering a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty even …” And he said, “No, no, no, no, they're not because if the Irish allow the Treaty to be ratified, that's it, over, and you won't get a referendum from the Conservatives”.


Well what we've said is that we support a referendum, we want a referendum. We want that referendum to happen now. It can happen now because the Treaty is still being discussed and debated elsewhere in Europe. It hasn't been signed and ratified by everybody. And the more people who vote Conservative on June 4th, the greater the pressure there will be on Gordon Brown to hold that referendum that he promised. And if we get the early election …


(over) It sounds like UKIP are right.


Well no, if we get the early election that I'm asking for - either in July or in September, the Treaty's still there - we could have a referendum before Christmas. So that is what we should have.


But you know it's likely that Gordon Brown will hang on and won't call an early election. And if the Irish then vote for the Treaty and it's ratified, we will be in the position that UKIP talk about, which is that if you get a Conservative government afterwards, it will have been ratified. What I'm asking is in those conditions, will you hold a referendum?


Well there are awful lot of ifs.




That's if we don't have an early election; if the Irish vote yes when last time they voted no; if the …


(over) They're quite likely ifs.


… if the Czechs and others all actually put the Constitution through. If all of these things happen, then what happens?




What I've said there is we will not let matters rest. We think that too much power will have been passed from Westminster to Brussels and we'll want some of those powers back. Now at that moment, I will come on your programme and explain exactly what we'll do. Right now, I don't want to let Gordon Brown off the hook. He made a promise to hold that referendum and I'm going to try and hold him to that promise. And if I'm elected as Prime Minister while this Treaty is still alive, I will have a referendum very, very quickly. I will recommend to people that we vote no because I don't support the European Constitution. I think we've already passed too many powers from Westminster to Brussels and we should be trying to build a different sort of European Union. And if people, you know if people are angry with the major parties and they want to vote UKIP as a result, what they'll be doing is actually letting Gordon Brown off the hook. He will be able to sit back in Downing Street and think you know I've got away with it again. I've got away with breaking my promise on holding this referendum, which was in their manifesto. And do you know this is why …


(over) It does sound … I think it'll sound to a lot of people watching as if you do not intend to hold a referendum in the circumstances, the not unlikely circumstances that I've outlined to you.


But this is exactly what Gordon Brown and those wanting to get away with it want, which is for the Conservatives to answer a whole string of hypothetical questions about what might happen in the future. I want to maximise the pressure for a referendum right now.

John said...


I will also stand against nadine Dorries as well.

A number of us will.

Newmania said...

I think I shall put my name forward. I suppse the Conservative Party being what it is there is little chance of getting any where but why not .
I know a vast deal more about a just about everyhting than most MP`s and I do not lie and I am not a thief.
Come to think of it as a mixed race family we look rather good as well , they like that sort of thing don`t they ?

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

How about accepting back all those people Cameron to "thanks and f*** off" when he butchered the list when he came to power. It was obvious he was going to do this before the next election because of his attempts at tokenism over talent.

strapworld said...

John Moss. You live and presumably work in the South East, in London. So you could go for vacancies when they occur there.

Wasn't it the previous tenant of Chingford, one Lord Tebbit that spoke about his father going on his bike for work?

I used to live in Chingford, too, I am talking about area's that identify with local people. That cannot be said about Chingford.

What I object to is constituencies in Devon, Cornwall etc. who have really good local people having candidates foisted upon them. People who have no connection with the constituency at all, excepting that they took holidays there, they own a second home there, or will move there if they win.

North Devon have suffered that for the past two general elections. North Cornwall have one who has relatives there!!

Local people in Devon and Cornwall, I can tell you will not go for 'blow ins'
They are considered grockles!

Look at ukip- so desperate they have a Belgium and an American standing for them!

Verity said...

Anyone with the drive to serve in Parliament has already applied. What Cameron is doing is inviting less motivated people to join in. Yet another typically ill-thought essay into "inclusiveness".

Not for the first time, I agree with Strapworld's post.

Also, I do not like the requirement that there must be a 50-50 balance between male and female candidates. It is ridiculous and fascist. For God's sake, Cameron, get out of the bloody way!

Fred said...

I feel that real anger will be rendered in the election of Independent Candidates everywhere, rather than fringe party candidates.

DespairingLiberal said...

I wonder though if this is a (perfectly understandable) attempt by Cameron to get round the deliberate stacking of the Tory candidates list with Belize-funded Europhobes? Can it be that David is boxing clever and taking advantage of the current crisis? After all, the mad Euro-hating of the bulk of the Alter-Tory membership is a burden to any leader trying to modernise the hopeless old warhorse.

This "revolution" is starting to prove helpful in all sorts of unexpected ways!

Verity said...

Despairing Liberal - Gosh, Belize has the money to fund anyone? How intriguing. Why would they want to?

Tim W - appreciate your post.

Ollie - the new term is Heirites. Blairites and Heirites.

Matthew Scott said...

So who will the Tories put up against David Van Day in Mid Beds when they oust Nadine Dorries?

As a Mid Beds voter, I think its fantastic that David Van Day has said he will stand.

Dimoto said...

So, Ollie, you missed the bit where Cameron said "people who share our beliefs" ?

Siberian Tory said...

Put simply this if a great idea. I didn't like the A list either, it was a barrier to entry, today's announcement removes a barrier.

But some of the comments here demonstrate precisely why this needs to be done.

John Moss. Tough Titties! The job of an MP is to represent his constituents. If you happen to live, as I do, in an un-winnable move to a winnable and live among the people for a bit. You are not owed a seat by anyone. Just because you want to be an MP doesn't give you the right to be one.

There are times an outside candidate is the better option but all else being equal take a local one. I wish you the best of luck John and I'm sure if you're talented enough it won't matter your not local but if you're not well like I said...tough.

As for the comments of those who are precious about the fact they've put in the ground work pushing leaflets and licking the right bums this doesn't entitle you to a be a PPC either.

I wouldn't mind giving it a shot at some point in my life. I've done the ground work and licked the right bums. But I'm grown up enough to realise that's nowhere near enough. Experience, understanding of the locale and a developed sense of civic duty count more.

Suck your pet lips in and get over it!

By the way Verity; an awful lot of non-political people are put off joining and applying because the system and culture disgusts them. Perhaps we need more people like this in our party? People who are not "driven" to be a Conservative MP but who instead are the best people for the job.

Get rid of the barriers and we'll have a better and more representative party with a lot more talent in it.

By the way if you hadn't noticed already...I feel quite strongly about this.

Ken Haylock said...

Siberian Tory, I entirely agree! Do people really want a reprise of the New Labour model, where placemen who have demonstrated a sufficient degree of arslikhan and 'loyalty' are are parachuted into safe seats and thence onto the green benches so that they can troop supinely through the lobbies in support of whatever a small cabal at the top of the party decide is a good idea this week (based on focus groups or some other measure of expediency)?

I believe that even if some people do still want that, after this expenses scandal and the wreckage of the last 8 years it is no longer a viable electoral tactic, let alone a sound way to run a country! And whatever else it was for 'New Labour', it really wasn't much of an advert for parliamentary democracy even though it was a demonstrably tactically effective route to power for Blair & Brown!

Elliot Kane said...

I have to admit I think this is a really great idea. Opening the ranks to allow new blood into all political parties would be a great boost for them, for democracy and for this country.

I hope this idea catches on and I totally applaud Cameron for it.

DespairingLiberal said...

It is a good idea of Cameron's and the LibDems ought to follow suit.

Verity - not sure if it's just Belize, isn't the Turks and Caicos involved as well? Or is it Malawi? Or British Car Auctions? The only thing we know for sure is that very little tax has been paid on it! Don't expect any assault on tax havens from the Tories in office. Too much to lose.

Shame though to waste so very much money on such a load of complete **ssers.

Anonymous said...


18 years of visiting Cornwall and I always thought a Grockle was a tourist? Maybe not.

But on the topic, no Association has people foisted on them. Even in the days of the "A" list, local candidates were still eligible to apply and many did.

It is quality which matters and as most MPs will have their main job and family homes in London, how long is it before your "local" candidate ceases to be so?

I just think the obsession with local candidates is overdone and contradicts the idea of selection on merit.

Verity said...

Belize is a tax haven? Who knew?

DespairingLiberal said...

You seem confused Verity - can I suggest you look up "Lord Ashcroft" on Wikipedia?