More4 News has surveyed fifty chairmen of Conservative Associations for tonight's 8pm programme. The fifty chairmen represent Tory activists in over half of the party's top eighty target seats and these were their responses to three questions posed by More4 News:
(1) Do you agree with the policy of selecting PPCs from an A list in key marginals and conservative held seats?
(2) Do you approve of David Cameron having a quota of 50% women and 10% black and ethnic minorities on the A-list?
(3) Do you think that David Cameron's policy will damage the credibility of the Conservative party?
On the face of it these numbers from chairmen look reasonably good for David Cameron and they contrast with ConservativeHome's January finding that 60% of Tory members disapprove of the 50/50 nature of the A-list. It might be that the passage of time has softened opposition to the A-list. It might be that Association Chairmen are disproportionately loyal to CCHQ's wishes.
The danger for Mr Cameron is that the opposition to the policy of nine Association Chairmen - is typical of some other Association officers and will develop into a fuller resistance to the A-list. This seems less likely if CCHQ continues to adopt the softly-softly approach that we have seen in the last two days:
- The fact that at least two local candidates have been permitted to apply for the A-list seat of South Northamptonshire suggests that CCHQ is willing to allow some flexibility in how seats use the A-list.
- And yesterday's special by-election arrangements for Bromley & Chislehurst.