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Given the support for Steven Norris they needn't bother

Graeme Archer

I wouldn't worry about this - it was inevitable wasn't it. If they want to be silly let them. Billy Bragg has been gunning for Oliver Letwin for what feels like most of my adult life - he's never succeeded (what is it with someone like Billy Bragg? I hate everything he stands for but I'm incapable of feeling anything but fond of him. If I were Labour I would be doing everything I could to get him to be London mayoral candidate.


Experience in the US of open primaries is that while a few activists cross over to vote mischeviously, most normal people don't bother.

This will be some free publicity for the process and help alert the sort of wavering Tories we want to get involved to the vote.

Incidentally, when this is all done it will have helped dispel the myth that cross over voting is a danger in primaries, and therefore clear some of the grassroots types opposition to open primaries.

James Baxter

"Given the support for Steven Norris they needn't bother."

I'm afraid "tax cutter" is letting their rather narrow prejudices show.

I think you'll find that these people will vote for the lightweight candidates that we know are running: Borwick, Boles and Lightfoot, all of whom Ken Livingstone would eat for breakfast.

Opponents are hardly likely to vote for someone with massive name ID who voters could actually take seriously as a Mayor.

David G. Meacock

Do we really want to risk having the selection of future candidates by a majority who also vote in Big Brother, rather than by those who have the ability to dig beneath the surface and explore a range of attributes required for the job? As politicians are dealing with such serious matters as the UK Budget, shouldn't their selection be on the same basis as chosing company executives - i.e. on ability to do the job - or have politicians actually become so powerless that a glorified politically correct beauty parade will do to fill the position with a name?



thats democracy - people who vote for Big Brother or Strictly come Dancing or whatever also vote for MPs, Councillors and Mayors (if they are bothered to). The selection of politicians isn't technocratic it's democratic - we trust the wisdom of the masses.

The election process may not guarantee suitability for a job but it demonstrates the candidates ability to plan, communicate, make decisions under pressure, react to events and fight their corner on policy. The more a candidate is examined under this pressure the better.

Mike Wood

As I understand it, the primaries will only select between the few candidates who have made it through the various CCHQ and regional committee interviews.
Those looking to select an "entertaining" candidate would have been better off signing up for UKIP in time to vote for this guy in their leadership election:

Denis Cooper


"... clear some of the grassroots types opposition to open primaries."

What are "grassroots types"?

Alison Anne Smith

You wouldn't let Arsene Wenger pick the Chelsea team for Arsenal v Chelsea nor Shane Warne pick the England Team for England v Australia so why on earth would you think that non-Tories would do anything but suggest the person least likey to win the election. I don't get it ?

Don Jameson

I see little downside here.

If the opposing parties give the Tories a big bunch of text-based money and inflict a no-hoper, there's still tons of time to do an Archer-Norris style switch before the big day.

And how clever to run a big open primary at a time when Nulab will be obsessing about Trades Unions bloc votes in their own leadership stakes.


Yes, the story was in the Standard, near the front. Sorry, left my copy on the train.


Would somebody mind explaining to me who Billy Bragg actually *is*? What does he do? Why is his opinion quoted so often?

I'm always confused whenever his name keeps cropping up. He obviously can't be a Labour donor as he doesn't even have a knighthood.

tory 2 win

This is why we need strong candidates whom Londoners know. Nick Bowles, Victoria Borwick and Warwick Lightfoot don't cut it.

We need higher quality people like Norris, Portillo, Ken Clarke or Chris Patten to attract primary support and take on Livingstone. The primary endorsement needs to be a display of Londoners' confidence in the strength of our candidate not an embarassing display of weakness, whereby inconsequential figures are supported out of a desire to tactically vote against us.


You wouldn't let Arsene Wenger pick the Chelsea team for Arsenal v Chelsea

Your analogy is a false one.

nor Shane Warne pick the England Team for England v Australia

We are not inviting Labour or UKIP to suggest a mayor.
We are inviting THE GENERAL PUBLIC.
It is more like asking the England supporters to pick who wants to be in their team. The Mayor will be governing all of London, not just Tory-run councils.

so why on earth would you think that non-Tories would do anything but suggest the person least likey to win the election. I don't get it ?

Because people are more likely to vote for someone at the final stage of a Mayoral election if they voted for him or her at the previous stage.

The number of opposing party activists will be very small compared with the rest so the risk of sabotage would be very small, especially when you consider that ALL of our own activists SHOULD be voting too.

Also, referring to the general public as "non-tories" is silly. The people who voted Labour into power in the last 3 elections are not card carying labour supporters. Many of them used to vote for us once upon a time and they still can.

This mentality of treating everybody who isn't a party member or official supporter as an outsider is what has kept us out of government all this time.


I've never understood why Billy Bragg wants to unseat Oliver (Jolly Olly) Letwin. If Jolly Olly was in the Labour Party, Blair would have him de-selected as a dangerous lefwinger.

Andrew Woodman

Billy Bragg is a tedious idiot who the BBC drag out on occasions in the belief he's entertaining. As all the contenders will be decent candidates, this campiagn will achieve very little apart from putting money into our fighting fund. Bring it on I say.

Alison Anne Smith

"Would somebody mind explaining to me who Billy Bragg actually *is*? What does he do? Why is his opinion quoted so often?"

70's/80's songwriter/musician, you're obviously younger than 35 or older than 50 Geoff. Google him !

Alison Anne Smith

I'm sorry but if you think that anyone not affiliated to a party is going to show any interest in this "Primary" then you must be wearing CCHQ issue blinkers !


Thanks Alison - I turned 32 last Monday, so you are absolutely spot on. I found him later on Wikipedia and still hadn't heard of anything he'd done.

However my question remains...why on earth does everyone seem to quote this trivial person's opinion all the time?

I hope that this predicable attempt at sabotage is ignored and we stick with the open primary. It's brave, innovative and challenging to our opponents (Sir Humphrey would run a mile from those words!). If it is handled well then the political rewards will be great for us.

Yet Another Anon

"Would somebody mind explaining to me who Billy Bragg actually *is*? What does he do? Why is his opinion quoted so often?"

70's/80's songwriter/musician, you're obviously younger than 35 or older than 50 Geoff. Google him !
I'm not sure I would describe them as songs, in fact I don't know anyone who actually likes Billy Bragg songs or thinks anything of his political views regardless of their actual political views, a lot of people can't stand Melvyn Bragg either - but the media seem to believe that somehow he is popular and represents the working man?

I am 35 by the way and I want Jim to fix it so that Billy Bragg is bound and gagged and left at the bottom of a deserted mineshaft.


"What are "grassroots types"?"

Sorry, really bad choice of words - was in a hurry earlier.

Basically what I meant were the sort of people who run the local party - so the more establishment type of grassroots folk.

I remember when there were a bunch of interviews with candidates for the party board on this site and lots of them were saying things like "oh no we can't have open primaries as non-tories will come and vote in bad candidates".

Johnny Smythe

To hell with Billy Bragg trying to shaft any Tory candidates, I understand that Nicholas Boles is thinking of running for the Party nomination (Editor, can you confirm this?)...and wait for it...he is engaging Dominic Cummings to help put together his campaign....talk about shooting yourself in the foot! This by the way is the same Mr Cummings who failed in a splendid fashion under IDS, says it all really. Way to go Nicholas...

David G. Meacock

Ted confuses two quite different processes: selecting a candidate prior to the election contest between Parties' candidates, and voting for someone to assume public office. We agree that the more a candidate is examined under pressure the better. While the proposed new method may embarrass other parties, I'm not convinced that it will actually enable verifiable in depth examination of candidates' relative qualities by every selector (voter), and thus that it will really produce a winner for us. When a Blue Chip Co. wants to select an Executive, it does not ask the shareholders, never mind the general public who are all potential customers to make the selection. Any method which smacks of gimmick will only further alientate a public which is fed up to the back teeth with politics based on flashy PR about nothing of any great substance which offers them no choice of policy direction.

At the end of the day whatever method of selecton is used, we need policies which even the Big Brother voter can see will both be different from other Parties, and crucially will make a positive difference to him/her personally. Then, whoever is chosen needs excellent communication skills and an ability to really sell the policies, which has been developed with past and present political experience.

Deputy Editor

I don't know if it was from a previous interview, but I heard Nick Ferrari on Radio 4 today saying that he definitely did want to stand for mayor but whether he would be the Tory candidate was negotiable as he would be equally happy standing on his own platform.

Dan Hamilton

Responding to Mike Wood, I'd suggest that we view all the UKIP Leadership contenders as worthy of ridicule and derision.

Many Tories have made the mistake of giving them a modicum of credence and/or respect. Noble objectives apart, they a Party of (as Michael Howard said) "cranks" and "gadflies".

The moment I decided I hated UKIP was at about 4:00am on 6th May 2005 at the count for the Eastleigh constituency where a good mate of mine – who has a proven track record as a Eurosceptic - was defeated by the LibDems by 600ish votes. This allowed Europhile MEP Chris Huhne into Parliament. UKIP got 1600 votes. The Eastleigh UKIP Branch jeered our candidate and were clearly very pleased to have cost us victory.

My view was strengthened about half an hour later by another person I’d worked hard for in Thanet losing by around 700 votes, allowing a Labour Minister to hold his seat. UKIP got over 2000.

Many Tories make the mistake of thinking that UKIP are a “sound” group of people that we should respect and work with. They are wrong.

We need to throw everything we can at destroying them. I’d be delighted to debate any UKIP members that were to, hand on heart, tell me I’m wrong in what I’ve said above.

Chris Palmer

Interestingly enough, the domain was registered by a Mr John Harris - whether this provides any clues to anyone, I don't know.

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