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Come on Francis! Don’t spoil your fantastic initiative by rushing it, especially not when it could be taken as undermining the whole thing. It would be so typical of politicians, to PRETEND they want openness, to PRETEND they are inclusive. To PRETEND they are embracing the modern age, and then use the whole platform to get their mates into the positions they want! If you don’t make this truly open and fair – and that must mean giving non-professional politicos a proper chance to prepare, as The Editor says - then it will end up having the exact opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve. We could again look like the party of manipulators or, perhaps worse, mismanagers. And people will think, “same old Tories…”

This open letter looks eminently sensible.I can assure the editor that I believe the information set out in the original Watlington article to be accurate regarding the timetable - although it is true that the current paper being considered by the Party Board is still in draft format. If the Conservative Party really want a good Mayoral candidate, it should delay the contest and provide the resources to ensure that charismatic candidates of modest financial means have a level playing field. CCO should provide the financial muscle, not the candidate. The contest must not be seen as a stitchup for 'friends' of the Cameroons, however capable certain individuals may be.

Shame on you, Editor. You might have showed what a caring, compassionate Conservative you are by enclosing a tenner for a tie.

The possibility of a Primary for the Mayoral election is immensely exciting and could electrify the Tory party in London. I like the idea cited on the blogs suggesting Ray Lewis as our candidate. He would be a breath of fresh air.

Surely, what is important is that the candidate resonates with all potential Tory voters, rather than merely party members. Since no-one really knows whom an open primary would choose, it can hardly be called a stitch up. CCHQ has a job to ensure that it is impartial and that the rules are fairly applied to all. It isn't their job to go headhunting for people but to make all who wish to stand feel that they will be treated fairly and professionally.

That said, the Democrat and Republican primaries for President finish up around March in the same year as the presidential election itself in November. Does it really make sense to select someone 18 months earlier than even a US Presidential candidate? Some members don't like it when candidates have to balance the jobs they need to pay their mortgage and feed their family with being a candidate but with these hugely long campaign periods--during which Londoners will not be interested in the Mayoral race--only allow those who don't need to work to escape that criticism.

The whole point about open primaries is that you get a candidate who is already popular, and don't need to impose one.

The reason I support primaries is because they can cut the party shortlists out of it, and make parties less centralised.

The commitment to a decentralized party is to be welcomed but there doesn't seem to be enough commitment behind that commitment.

We need a candidate with proven campaigning and management experience. The Mayor has extensive powers and a large huge budget. Quite frankly, many of the names touted on this site and by Watlington do not have the necessary skills and experience. Steve Norris does.

That's the beauty of an open primary though.

Let the candidates put their names forward and the public will decide who has the necessary skills and experience.

I agree with you Editor 100% on this. I think a primary to choose our candidate for London Mayor is a very exciting prospect. However if it is rushed like this there is a very good prospect of either the process going wrong, or the wrong candidate being selected. Let’s hope Francis Maude/CCHQ listens to you (though as ever with CCHQ, I fear not).

Don't want to be a harbinger of doom, but would many Conservatives really want to be the London Mayor in the run up to, and in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Olympics?

As I pointed out yesterday, this primary will not be 'open', but will actually be rather restricted.

While I am still dubious about the merits of open primaries I can see the appeal in at least trialling them and all of your suggestions are sensible Tim.

I do hope that the CCHQ take account of your suggestions.

DVA - So in other words this is nothing more than a glorified selection process. How typical!

If CCHQ follow Tim's good advice then its likely the primary will be open. Obviously there is a need for some nomination processto limit the size of field but equally its important that we have a range of candidates to whittle down before the final vote.
This is a first step into opening our party up - lets seize it and make it work.

Obviously there is a need for some nomination processto limit the size of field but equally its important that we have a range of candidates to whittle down before the final vote.

Could you not just require any would-be candidates to supply x number of named supporters from within the eligible electorate?

This would get the candidates out on the streets, talking to the people before they even try to apply, and would keep things open and democratic without a whiff of cco manipulation?

"DVA - So in other words this is nothing more than a glorified selection process. How typical!"

Let's not twist my words eh? I was referring to the fact that participation in this primary will be restricted rather than open to the wider electorate across London. It wasn't necessarily a criticism (although I do feel we are possibly missing a trick here) and it certainly wasn't a comment on 'rigging'.

Serves me right for being pedantic I suppose.

Off-topic, but the final boundary recommendations for Greater Manchester have been released - click here to view. Ruth Kelly will be breathing a sigh of relief, sadly.

Similarly off-topic - Iain, how do the results look for us? Apologies for topic-divergence to everyone else.

Nothing to write home about, I'm afraid. Our proposals to reconstitute the Davyhulme constituency were rejected, and the changes to Bolton West add 1500 to Ruth Kelly's majority at the very least. Not many significant changes either from the original proposals or the current status quo, to be honest.

Thanks Iain, I appreciate the response.

I think Tim and Sam need a tory forum type discussion board to allow threads to stay on theme and allow members to post new subjects not covered by the day's themes.

Please add off topic subjects to the frontpage. It really is unhelpful on these specific threads.


I can think of at least one site where that is already possible :)

Quite right Serf, sorry. rightlinks is excellent - just plugging one of domains available for a reasonable price.. ;-)

Back on topic: Tim, I know you have noted before that Francis reads the site, but have you mailed him your letter, or has he acknowledged reading it?

Yes, Chad, Francis does read the site but I also emailed it to him earlier.
Best wishes,

Just to test if this works we should include a candidate who nobody in their right mind would vote for. Then if that person wins the primary, we will know there has been infiltration!

Sorry, manipulation (by the opposition) would have been a better term than infiltration.

"Just to test if this works we should include a candidate who nobody in their right mind would vote for."

Unfortunately the Liberal Democrats of Birmingham Yardley beat us to it.

"Quite frankly, many of the names touted on this site and by Watlington do not have the necessary skills and experience. Steve Norris does."

Er, yeah, but Steve Norris also has a track record as a loser. Isn't the classic definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

Forget Norris. He's the very symbol of a man only out for himself. Yes, he's good at (traditional) media, but that's it. A man of no principles, no belief, other than his own self-advantage. The essence of 'the past'. A completely pointless old-style politician. Perfect for Jarvis, terrible for us.

"A man of no principles, no belief, other than his own self-advantage"

That's just not true. Many times, he has taken flack for offering his genuine view on issues when it did him no favors with party members. He stuck it out as a modernising Tory when it was not in style. Do people really think that Jeffrey Archer or Nikki Page would have beat Livingstone?

Do people really think that Jeffrey Archer or Nikki Page would have beat Livingstone?

Perhaps not, but the point of this primary idea, is that we are not restricted to the obvious names.

Moreover, a primary will give outside candidates a chance to hone their skills and image, making them real contenders.

More on this story here


"More on this story here


Seems like a good potential candidate. Let us hope if she is chosen it will be on ability and not sexuality.

I think primary elections are an excellent idea and should be used for the selection of candidates in all the constituancies.
Firstly, one of the biggest turnoffs for the public is they have a restricted choice of candidates at elections because the only choice is what the parties put in front of them. Secondly they only see the candidates for a limited period before an election.
Primaries would be a very good way of connecting the party with all sections of society because the prospective candidates would have to go out and meet all the people, (rich or poor, ethnic or white) in the constituancy.
A good template of how this could be conducted was the Leadership contest where through interviews, speeches etc. the wider public (where we have been a turnoff for many years) have become interested in the Tory party again thanks to the leadership of David Cameron and now the rest of us should follow his example.
For too long the party has been talking to itself and its core supporters. We need to continue and build the public,s respect for the party and its people by going out and talking to them.
I believe primaries are an excellent way of involving every one in a constituancy in choosing a candidate and that candidate would have better chance of winning at an election, not only because he/she is the party choice but the choice of all the constituants.

I joined the Islington Conservative Party Association a year ago at 42 years old . I am a Nick Hornbyesque sort of person really having gone to a red brick university , got a job and drifted along. I understand as well as any then how off putting party insiders are to the uncommitted . To admit to being a Conservative is still to signal selfishness, but more importantly that you are outside mainstream culture. I am aware that the ICM pole has us at 40% but this all pervading problem is to do with winning an argument most party insiders are not even aware of . At this point we should be out of sight and the feeling that we are playing away from home , almost in someone elses country is to do with the cultural gap I am fumbling to describe. I see David Cameron as a Cassandra to Tory Troy. He implies that many Conservatives are geeks , oddbods , old-fashioned racists ,sexist ,inky fingered enthusiasts and naturally is loathed by those who thought these were markers of a cultural elite .He knows however that Conservatives have to become like the country they live in or slowly become extinct and this was the point of the Mayoral contest.
I was horrified to see the candidates therefore who are exemplars of everything the Party doesn’t need. The position of Mayor is not essential it is however symbolically hugely important. Many people who could not tell you more than one member of the cabinet will of course know Ken Livingstone . I think David Cameron wanted to use the Mayoral elections to reconnect with the country but thus far the attempt is failing. In a fit of Pooterish frustration I have sent in an application . Some excerpts are below including the 600 or so word vision of London required . It will be interesting to see what happens and if anyone has any thoughts on what is basically a quiet protest I will be glad to hear them. I

`Conservatives are failing in the war of semiotics. For example I attended a Bruges Group meeting. Christopher Brooker gave a thoroughly enlightened and modern account of the EU from a strictly economic self interest point of view. Nonetheless the overall impression was of old men grumbling. Entirely unfair, but Conservatives are not in a position to say can’t play, won’t play to the media as it is. People who come from within the party, who I almost always like, are often poor users of the cultural meta-language others take for granted, I am not. I believe I can help to change the mysterious phenomenon of people simultaneously agreeing with Conservatives but disliking the idea of being a Conservative and I am currently writing a series of articles on this subject.

Although I am a firm Cameron supporter I do have reservations. In particular it concerns me that he is quite so keen to rule out any reduction in the role of the state and especially the unreasonable burden on the lower middle classes and upper working classes (i.e. most people actually working). Something of the point to this application, which has a serious intent, is to highlight the dissonance between the political classes as a whole and the tax payers they supposedly represent. Is it right for example that Conservatives, quintessentially working private people, should be obliged to choose between a think tanker and a radio personality. In my view the Conservative party certainly needs to modernise but it does not need to trivialise.


The legend is that Margaret Thatcher said "There is no such thing as Society". but in fact she added "Only Community" My vision of London is not of a Grandiose single entity but as a series of communities. These communities may be geographical, religious or virtual for example but it is London’s ability to include difference that I would like to re -emphasise. This would have a number of implications only some of which I have room for here.


In my own Borough we have recently been the subject of GLA bullying over the number of new and Social accommodation to be inflicted on Islington. The Mayors targets are nothing short of a new Hells Kitchen and this is repeated throughout the Capital. I do not agree with much our locally elected Liberal Council do, but I deplore the Mayors creeping influence over planning and strategic decisions. My vision of London is of one that has a less important Mayor. I am entirely happy with the paradox.


The acceleration of net migration into the Capital for example is not sustainable and to pretend it is, is to sacrifice all commonsense in order to dance around the politically correct maypole. As many who worry about immigration, unfortunately, are racists, those who worry but are not, must be crystal clear about their ground. It is quality of life within communities for Londoners, all Londoners, that is a stake. My own family will, I hope, demostrate, this is a workaday problem for us all.
The effects of Home Office blunders and Policy in this area are felt disproportionately in London, we have little control. The role of Mayor is highly plastic however, as we well know, and my ideas for a new type of Mayor would enable him to speak effectively for London against Central Governement when required.


The use of any Regional authorities has been chiefly to confuse the voters, esepcially with regard to national planning strategy. I would like to unravel the Central Government, Regional Authority, Local Authority knot and engage in continual transparent debate. This debate would include, vitally, a direct, formal and strong decision making role for London’s Boroughs. It may be counter intuitive, but increasing the Mayors paper powers leaves him powerless to affect London’s real problems which to a large extent are the remit of national Government. A population the size of Scotland with much larger tax revenues should be able to wield political power. We call Ken Livingstone "King Ken" but he is a King of America, a nonentity in representing us to the outside world . To speak for London the Mayor must be more Presidential, a conduit for democratically expressed wishes. Not a Dictator or worse still an apologist for New Labour mistakes.


The Mayor is currently too powerful, we know. That he is, as a consequence, isolated and powerless is a problem that deserves our attention as well.


The problem, encroaching state coercion. Measures? For example, I would remove the pointless congestion charge and press hard for less draconian and anti car local policy, where possible. I would try to work with Local Authorities in adjusting their increasingly intrusive policies on the use of CCTV and I would leave cyclists alone. The logic of public safety is capable of infinite extension.


William Pitt "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the arguement of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves".


I have the space for a mention of crime. Until such time as the police are properly accountable to the "local" people they serve I would use the position to apply whatever pressure I could for greater value for money. It is my belief that of all the institutions we rely on this is the worst performing and local Councils are currently fobbed off without proper information or any real input . Again my imagined City is locally empowered. Improving trust and performance here is a vital balancing strut to the Libertarian agenda but we should not forget the role of strenth in earning respect.


A politically powerful but formally weak Mayor will about face to represent all of London against Central Government policy not to its liking. My London would have been recognisable in some ways to its Medieaval citizens, free, plural, local, independent and on occasion a nuisance to its National Rulers.

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