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This may not be the correct time to raise the question but what happens if a "big hitter" is not found in the following six months after the initial postponement.


What a fiasco.

Enough people warned them of this, but (as ever) they knew best.

Why do CCHQ behave as though they are infallible and beyond receiving words of wisdom from sources other than themselves?


If no big hitter comes forward and they have to run with the current list of declared candidates than that bunch will dammed as second rate and not really wanted by the Tories from the start.

Will they have to persaude a reluctant big-hitter to enter the race a bit like Frank Dobson had to in order to take on Ken first time round.

Daniel Vince-Archer

I have to say I'm really surprised by this news - I thought the establishment had already closed ranks behind Nicholas Boles as their candidate of choice?

Reality Cheek

Conservative HQ pays peanuts so it gets monkeys. The only advantage of working there is that it's a springboard to a seat. Invariably a springboard for a monkey to a seat.


ChaunceyGardener, thank you for the update. It is pretty much what I expected the answer to be. My concern is that if we extend the nomination period for 6 months then anyone who steps forward is flagged by Ken as not wanting the role in the first place otherwise they would have stood earlier (so they are already campaigning on the back foot), and if no-one steps forward then Ken merely trumpets that these are as you say a group of "second-rate" candidates. This on top of the Bromley & Chislehurst campaign isn't reinforcing our argument that we are better able to manage the country.


Embarrassing. I mean, let us be honest, delaying the race would send a signal that they have no confidence in any of the candidates. It is comparable to a slap in the face and "you are not good enough". It also says that they really only want someone of substance to be elected and the entire thing is for show only. What a pathetic turn of events.


An exact repeat of the discredited A list, intial list and top up scenario.

All those added later or never added and local can be tagged with the "not good enough a few months ago/not good enough to be A list" line.

"Why should voters vote for them if their own party has so little confidence in them?"

Amazing (or maybe not) that so many issues can be botched.

Denis Cooper

"Ken"? Calling him "Ken" just contributes to his carefully developed cult of personality. I recall hearing Norris refer to "Ken", and thinking "plonker".


If only they had listened to the advice they recieved at the time.

As anon says, and extention offers our opponents great ammunition.

Lets say that there is an extention and despite new candidates coming forward, on of the current six has used the time well and comes through to win. We end up with a candidate that the electorate wants, but CCHQ apparently doesn't rate.

london tory

This is the right thing to do.

Serious candidates with serious jobs can't just drop everything and live off thin air for two years.

In the United States, primaries are held much closer to the date of the main election for this very reason.

The smart thing to do would be to go back and talk to those who didn't put in and get a handle on the reasons, then we can progress.

You can't have an open primary with six people no-one has ever heard of. The turnout will be even lower than when members got a ballot paper in the mail.


Yes- delay it...anyone can make a mistake...the brave admit it and benefit in the long run. The public will appreciate that from politicians. It is a very good move.


Well Nadim,I defended CCHQ against you a while ago.I can't defend this.We should have gone with what we've got,at least these people actually want the job.I would have thought that with 18 months of solid campaigning behind them they would have had every chance to raise their profile. Also not sure what difference another 6 months is going to make,everyone's has known about this for ages .If they don't want to do the job now they never will.Unless of course Francis and Dave persuade somebody to commit political suicide as Blair did with Dobson.
PS Denis Cooper,you're absolutely right.We should never refer to Livingstone as 'Ken'.In many ways he's an evil man as his support for terrorists past and present indicates.


On balance I think this was the right decision but with one very important caveat. The Party absolutely has to find a heavy hitter candidate now or else risk looking truly absurd in six months time. And I don't really see how any of the existing candidates can now credibly stand.

And, Malcolm, it doesn't matter how we refer to Ken Livingstone. The public knows him as Ken and we can't do anything about it. He is one of the few politicians in the country to be universally known by his first name - "Tony" and maybe "Gordon" being two of the others. So you can call him what you like but I think your time would be better spent attacking his disastrous policies.


London Tory, I am not happy with the inference that the current six candidates are not serious about standing. You appear to believe that someone who is goaded into standing (do you not remember Frank Dobson’s unfortunate experience) will perform better. The fact remains the same. Namely that they will be on the back foot when campaigning since the first media question will be why didn't you submit your nomination from the start?

Now we have until 5pm for someone to step into the arena so technically all is not lost but even if someone does then it is likely that the media will be more interested in whether they actually wanted to stand in the first place or whether they were pushed into it.

With regards to my usage of the term ‘Ken’; I retract it and will now only use the official term "Mayor of London". The use of the term Livingstone reminds me of an infinitely more substantive figure, namely that of Dr David Livingstone.


Any delay should have been made a month or so ago before there were candidates in place - I agree with Malcolm, we have 6 people who want the job, they are not second rate just less known.

A primary campaign is different, it creates the contender so a big hitter often fails.

CCHQ just get on and do it.


Why all the fuss? Everyone knows that Livingstone's going to walk it, and whatever you think of his politics, he did bring the Olympics to London.


It is any surprise that no big-hitters have come forward? All they get to do is spend a year of their lives preparing to lose to Ken.

london tory

"they are not second rate just less known."

Some party members just don't get it.

This is not the same as selecting a PPC even for a target seat which London must be if we are to be taken seriously for the general election (although frankly most of the six would have a lot of trouble being selected to fight a winnable, target seat).

This is a much bigger, 74 times bigger, election than that. And the Mayor is a 74 times bigger political figure than an incumbent MP. And it is a media-driven event in which it is impossible to hide under the cover of a party's general election campaign the way that PPCs can.

It makes me sad that so many of our activists in this party don't seem to have a clue about candidate quality and how tough it is to win this particular election.

They wouldn't have spent the next few months "building themselves up." The media would simply have written them off, making it almost impossible to get any coverage.


When has the Tory party ever put forward a big hitter with a decent media image for this job London Tory? Jeffrey Archer was known for his novels and problems with truth and Norris was better known for his sexulal peccadilloes and chairmanship of a company involved in a rail crash than his work as a London MP.
And what of our opponents? Labour were going to go with Nicky Gavron (who?) before Livingstone was invited back. The election before Blair strongarmed his former sacked Health secretary into standing who had a reputation for being the thickest (possibly excluding Prescott) member of his own first cabinet.
The Lib Dems went with Susan Kramer who apart from an extraordinarily irritating voice had no public profile at all.
I would also contend that before the leadership election David Canmeron was not well known inside the party and was pretty unkown outside.Nine months later look what's happened!
I would have happy to vote for Nick Boles or James Cleverley and believe either would have made a better candidate with more hope of victory than any previous contender.
Perhaps it's you who 'doesn't get it'?


"Conservative HQ pays peanuts so it gets monkeys."

Well, £256,000 per year for part-time Steve Hilton is not 'peanuts' - though it is monkeys.

If only Steve Hilton were even more part-time, as it were. Maybe we should pay him £350,000 to disappear altogether.

Walaa Idris

Why does it have to be a big hitter? DC was not a big hitter and look at what he has achived in such a short space of time.
I think we are going about it all wrong, whats wrong with being the best person for the job because you have a vision, a drive, and a will never ever give up attitude. We all talk about change and evolving but it is just that, talk, and deep down we are and always will be the same.

intelligent conservative

"If only Steve Hilton were even more part-time, as it were. Maybe we should pay him £350,000 to disappear altogether."

Come off it. The money was worth the brilliantly effective Demon Eyes campaign alone that was just such a brilliant way to attack Blair and bring people back to the Tories... what a genius he is.

Nick Webb

The original timescale may not have been perfect, but it should have been adhered to. The primary style election will gain publicity for those competing to be candidates. It is, quite frankly, rather rich to announce the election by saying anyone can put themselves forward and then to extend the deadline because there wasn't a high profile candidate.

Laughing Cavalier

Ken Livingtone did not bring the Olympics to London. It is Jacques Chirac we have to blame for that. A day or so before the final vote in Singapore he made an unpleasant speech in which he insulted British and Finnish cuisine. Thus it was that the Finns were thoroughly miffed. Instead of voting for Paris, as they had originally intended, they switched their votes to London. And so it was that were were lumbered with this hugely expensive white elephant.

michael mcgough

Put Cameron up for Mayor and find a new leader.

Andrew Boff

Don't fret everyone. It is the nature of democracy to be messy. As the only person to have been in all of the Mayoral races I'm hardened to these surprises. I just hope that we can get a definition of "big hitter", "high profile" or "serious candidate" that doesn't just mean "been on the telly or radio" and might actually mean "got some ideas."


Laughing Cavalier, we have no way of knowing whether Chirac's speech made the Finns vote for us. Others have argued that someone casting a vote for the wrong city saved us from a Madrid-London final, which might have produced a different result. Either way, the amount of work Ken Livingstone put into the bid cannot be ignored, and will no doubt bring him political rewards in 2008.

Wat Tyler

What a mess.

But really, honestly, if you were a high profile heavy hitter who wanted to be mayor...er, why would you want to stand as Tory (or indeed Labour) candidate, and have to deal with all that "stuff"? Why wouldn't you stand as an independent like Ken, and be your own man/woman?

Personally, I think it is better for our parlous disengaged democracy if we have mayors like Ken and Robocop who are not whipped in to our MOR national party lines. It's one of the few jobs that combine some political power with room for experimentation and fresh thinking. National parties should be learning from them, not vice versa.

My vote goes to John Stevens or similar as an independent.

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