"Michael Howard was dealt a humiliating blow by Conservative MPs last night when they threw out his proposals for changing the party leadership rules. They insisted that only they should have the final say on choosing his successor. Representatives of the party's grassroots would be consulted informally but would not have a vote."
This quote is taken from p1 of this morning's Telegraph. The Telegraph focuses on the humiliation of Mr Howard but according to one MP the grassroots members were also effectively humiliated. The MP told this blog:
"Last night's meeting was like a meeting of 1970s trade unionists. There was no secret ballot - just a show of hands. When some MPs asked for a recount of one of the votes, other MPs shouted them down. It is ironic that the Conservative Party - that, under Margaret Thatcher, forced the trade unions to democratise their proceedings - has now voted for the elite of MPs to rob rank-and-file Conservative members of any direct say in the Party's next leader."
MPs didn't even discuss the various propositions under discussion at yesterday's meeting. There was just a series of votes.
Only half-a-dozen MPs - including Francis Maude and Mr Howard himself - voted for the leadership election process drafted by the Conservative Party Board. The second most popular option was an electoral college (of individual party members (40%) and MPs (60%)) proposed by John Hayes MP.
The MPs' vote is not decisive. The leadership election process can only be amended by a two-thirds vote of the National Convention - which includes constituency association chairmen and MPs. If the MPs and National Convention cannot agree on a way forward the existing election process will have to be used to elect Michael Howard's successor.
For your say on the way ahead visit ConservativeDemocracy.com.