After local Conservatives failed to endorse the previous selection (last March) a new shortlist has been drawn up:
George Galloway won't be fighting to retain a seat that he won at the last General Election, ousting Oona King. Labour need to overturn a projected majority of 1,331. The Tories have 13.3% of the vote.
Last night an Open Primary was held to select the Conservative candidate to stand in the redrawn Bethnal Green and Bow constituency at the next general election.
Local residents had been encouraged to attend through the local Conservatve Association website in order to choose between three finalists, Andrew Charalambous, Hasan Ali Imam and Claire Palmer.
After a ballot had been held of all those attending the meeting to select the candidate, the association members present remained for a Special General Meeting.
However, instead of rubber stamping the candidate selected by the residents attending the primary, I understand that the SGM did not endorse the result of that ballot, and it is now expected that the selection process will have to begin all over again after the European elections in June.
I am expecting a statement from the association this morning, the final wording of which is still being agreed. I will post it when I have it. which was finally released at 3.30pm and reads as follows:
"Bethnal Green and Bow Conservative Association, at a ballot of members last night, did not endorse the candidate selected at the earlier open primary meeting. A new selection process will now take place after the European Elections in June and the Association looks forward to taking the fight against the failed Labour Government forward with whoever is selected at that."
The use of open primaries is generally a great way of engaging a constituency's wider Conservative community in the selection process to give them early ownership of the candidate. However, it is vital that a local association should be able to have confidence in the conduct of such a process and that, above all, the candidates involved abide by the strict rules laid down about campaigning.
As such, it is only correct that a local association should have the right - as exercised by Bethnal Green and Bow Conservatives last night - to veto the result of such a ballot, since the system clearly can be abused or be subject to entryism and infiltration.