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Chairman Shapps culls the candidates' list - but he must be careful not to destroy its newfound diversity

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By Mark Wallace
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There's a interesting snippet from James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday today, which will have inspired new worry lines to emerge over a few breakfast tables.

Forsyth reports that Grant Shapps is carrying out a cull of the candidates' list - focused on removing those who did not come to campaign in Eastleigh.

There's a clear logic in encouraging candidates to support the party at by-elections. However, there could be unintended consequences.

I recently reported on the encouraging trend for PPCs to be drawn from a wider range of jobs and to be more local than before. If we want more people who run businesses, more people who are engineers or postmen,  and more people who have local ties to constituencies, then is it reasonable to expect every candidate to make it to every by-election?

Those who don't have the luxury of being able to ditch work to campaign whenever the party calls, those who live at the other end of the country from whichever by-election might come up or those who are not independently wealthy would understandably struggle to meet this exacting standard.

A careful balance must be struck - or else the party runs the risk of cutting back its newly widened candidate base just as it starts to flower.


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