By Tim Montgomerie
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Paul Goodman wrote about the review of the candidates' list on Friday. More dramatic accounts appear in two Sunday newspapers;
- "‘Tatler Tories’ ditched in purge of the right" is how The Sunday Times (£) reports it. It reports that "The clear-out sparked concern this weekend about the criteria used to remove people from the list, and the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs will discuss the matter next week when parliament returns from the Whitsun break." It names Deborah Dunleavy, Mark Clarke and Annunziata Rees-Mogg has three candidates who have been removed from the list.
- Annunziata Rees-Mogg's fate is the focus of the Mail on Sunday's story. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen MP is suspicious of the criteria that CCHQ has used:
"It is entirely wrong to treat some of our staunchest supporters in this way. Our grassroots supporters, who deliver leaflets and fund the running of the party, must be given a choice of candidates who reflect their views. Failure to do so will risk repeating the mistakes of the “A-list”, which demoralised a large section of our membership and support network... We should be drawing up a candidates list to win an outright majority – not end up in another coalition."
Paul suggested that the candidates list was being cut to about 700. My understanding is that about 150 to 200 people have been 'culled'. Anecdotally a good number of these candidates do appear to be right-wingers but it is only that; anecdotal evidence.
Party members will be suspicious because of the A-list experience. Examination of the electoral performance of candidates included on the original A-list revealed that many candidates had badly under-performed candidates who had been excluded from the list.
Paul Goodman reported that there will be no new A-list. In reality that means that no new A-list will be published. Tory HQ will be operating an informal list of preferred candidates. Many candidates are kept on the big list because they are donors or friends of high ups. That doesn't mean they are recommended to Conservative Associations when selections are taking place.