Last week you reported the agreement by the Board to new selection guidelines for the rest of this Parliament. The article, together with the comments, suggests a power grab by CCHQ and the imposition of candidates on Associations: a ‘slam dunk’ for the centralisers of power and one in the eye for localism! I don’t think this is what has happened and would like to offer some balance to your readers.
These are exceptional times leading to exceptional pressures on candidate selection. Under normal circumstances all our candidates could, and should, have been selected by now. However, the saga of MPs' expenses and David Cameron’s subsequent decision to re-open the Candidates' List means that this has not happened.
There are already 15 Conservative held seats that need to be selected as soon as possible and we can expect more – perhaps up to 30 in total. Clearly these need to be selected as soon as possible and certainly by the end of the year.
However, at the same time the Candidates' Department are under intense pressure, having to run a parliamentary assessment board nearly every week in order to give the thousands of new applicants both a reasonable prospect of joining the Candidates' List and to ensure that they meet the same standards required of everybody who is already on the list. The Board agreed to increase resources to the Candidates' Department but even so, some curtailment to the standard selection procedure was necessary if all these selections are to be completed by the end of the year.