6 Sep 2013 15:57:35

Candidate applications open for five more seats

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

More constituencies are now open for candidate applications, namely:

  • Bath
  • Croydon South
  • Newark
  • Plymouth Moor View
  • Tonbridge and Malling

Of the five, two are currently held by Conservatives. Sir John Stanley has been the MP for Tonbridge and Malling since 1974. Sir Richard Ottoway has held sway in Croydon South since 1992. Both are standing down at the election.

As for the other three, one is Labour (Alison Seabeck, Plymouth Moor View); one is Lib Dem (Don Foster, Bath); and one is technically independent, although that independent is Patrick Mercer in Newark, who was a Conservative MP until not that long ago, of course, and who is also standing down at the next election.

Although figures from the last election are always an imperfect guide, it’s worth noting that the Tories came second in both Plymouth Moor View and Bath – by 1,588 and 11,883 votes, respectively. Although perhaps it will be Croydon South that most catches the eye: that, you’ll remember, is the seat that was recently linked with Boris.

7 Aug 2013 17:01:11

Sir Alan Beith's retirement offers a great opportunity to Anne-Marie Trevelyan in Berwick

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter.

Anne Marie TrevelyanAfter 40 years representing Berwick-upon-Tweed in Parliament, the Lib Dems' Sir Alan Beith has announced he will be stepping down at the 2015 General Election. 

His retirement, whilst long suspected, had not been confirmed until now. It is certainly good news for Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was reselected earlier in the year to fight the seat for a second time.

Sir Alan has a significant personal vote who support him rather than his party. The Lib Dems may well struggle to persuade that chunk of the electorate to back their new candidate.

In 2010, Anne-Marie reduced Beith's majority from 23.9 per cent to 7 per cent. Without his personal following turning out to vote Lib Dem in 2015, she could well take the seat.

She is certainly an experienced and energetic campaigner - this is a great chance for her to convert all that hard work into victory. Her response to the news of his retirement struck the right balance between paying tribute and looking to the future:

"Sir Alan has been a loyal servant and honorable politician for the people of North Northumberland for over four decades and we are grateful to him for his dedicated public service. The election in 2015 will be about getting a better deal for Northumberland and that means we need a strong, energetic voice in Westminster to make things happen."

6 Aug 2013 06:48:24

Introducing eight new PPCs from across the country

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter. 

Candidate Map
Following the selection of the candidates for the 40 target seats that make up half of the 40/40 strategy, selections are proceeding apace in other constituencies. By my count, eight more seats now have PPCs in place. 

They are:

  • Birmingham Erdington: Robert Alden. Cllr Alden fought the seat in 2010, increasing the Conservative vote by impressive 9.7 percentage points. If he repeats the feat he will unseat Labour's Jack Dromey, and as a local councillor has the experience and access on the ground to take a serious run at it.
  • Brighton Pavilion: Clarence Mitchell. A former journalist, Mitchell is probably the most high-profile candidate selected so far. He is best known as the PR representative of the McCanns in their search for their missing daughter, Madeleine. In 2010, the Conservatives slipped to third place in Brighton Pavilion as Caroline Lucas became the first Green MP.
  • Carshalton and Wallington: Matthew Maxwell Scott. Maxwell Scott is a Wandsworth Councillor and a professional speechwriter in the private sector. He will be taking on Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, who has a majority of 5,260.
  • Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland: Will Goodhand. As the MD of a marketing farm, no doubt Goodhand is already planning his messaging for the campaign in one of the top Tory targets in the North East. Labour incumbent Tom Blenkinsop has a 1,700 majority here, so the seat is up for grabs in 2015.
  • Taunton Deane: Rebecca Pow. After 16 years as a journalist, specialising in agriculture and rural affairs and becoming Britain's first environment correspondent on the way, Pow has since launched her own business. She has lived in Taunton for 27 years, and will be up against the Lib Dems' Jeremy Browne, who holds the constituency with a 4,000 vote majority.
  • Westminster North: Lindsey Hall. Another former journalist, Cllr Hall leads Westminster City Council's drive against fraud. The Conservatives were unlucky not to win Westminster North last time round after a series of messy disputes involving the A-list candidate, Joanne Cash. Hopes will be high that Cllr Hall can get the job done properly.
  • Westmorland and Lonsdale: Ann Myatt. Dr Myatt, a consulting dermatologist, stood in 2010 in Hemsworth, where she was the only main party candidate to increase their vote. She now faces Lib Dem President Tim Farron in a seat which is a totem of the yellows' local campaigning model.
  • Yeovil: Marcus Fysch. A local businessman, Fysch was selected through an open primary public meeting, attended by over 200 local voters. He is a County and District Councillor, with experience of fighting the Lib Dems that should prove useful taking on David Laws.

This new raft of candidates allows us to update the analysis of who will be standing at the next election.

Three more female PPCs take the ratio up to 29 per cent, well above the current Parliamentary figures. Half are local to their seat, lower than the 75 per cent in the first 40 selections but still good news. Two have previously stood for Parliament and several have local and national campaigning experience.

Their professional backgrounds are varied, and the presence of three former journalists, several business leaders and a professional speechwriter all suggests that associations increasingly value the ability to communicate a point and lead a team. 

All in all, some welcome additions to the team who will be fighting the 2015 general election on the ground in some must-win seats.

11 Jun 2013 11:44:34

Candidate applications open for 10 more seats

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter. 

The next tranche of ten constituencies have opened candidate applications, following in the footsteps of the 40 who have selected PPCs so far.

The newly opened seats are:

  • Birmingham Erdington
  • Brighton Pavilion
  • Carshalton and Wallington 
  • Plymouth Moor View 
  • Taunton Deane
  • Tooting 
  • Twickenham 
  • Westminster North
  • Westmorland and Lonsdale 
  • Yeovil 

They are a wide-ranging bunch. As with the first 40, it's notable that they are disproportionately held by the Lib Dems - 4 are currently Labour, 5 are Lib Dem and one is Green.

There are some prominent names in there, too. Vince Cable in Twickenham, David Laws in Yeovil and Jeremy Browne in Taunton Deane will all have Tory candidates fighting them on the ground very soon. The most senior Labour MP facing the appointment of a challenger is Sadiq Khan in Tooting.

All ten of the seats saw Conservatives come second in 2010, though the majorities vary wildly from 1,252 for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion to 13,036 for David Laws in Yeovil. The average majority is 5,741 votes, though it is worth noting that a) that is dragged up by majorities of more than 10,000 in three of the seats and b) as discussed previously, target seats are being selected on more complex analysis than simple majority size.

There are several constituencies in the tranche which the Conservatives must win in a decent performance at the next election - I'm sure competition will be hot for the nominations. As ever we will bring you the latest from each seat as the process continues.

9 Jun 2013 12:56:19

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

Candidate Map

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter. 

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.

31 May 2013 06:45:32

The first 40 candidates for 2015: an overview

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter. 


In October, CCHQ announced that it was launching a 40/40 strategy aimed at winning the next election - based on holding 40 marginal seats and winning 40 target seats. We've been reporting on candidate selections over the last few months, and now 40 are in place there is an opportunity to give an overview of the PPCs who will be fighting in some of the key battlegrounds of the general election campaign.

The seats

Before we go into detail on the candidates, it's worth looking at the 40 constituencies which have selected so far (a full list is enclosed at the foot of this post). For a start, we cannot be certain that they are all among the 40 target seats mentioned above - one, Cardiff North, is held by a Conservative, Jonathan Evans, who will be stepping down at the next election, while some of the others have very high majorities.

Not that a high majority automatically rules a seat out from the 40/40 strategy. According to the original briefing last autumn, those being chosen are not simply the most marginal on paper. Analysis has also apparently been done to pick out seats which are undergoing major demographic changes which favour Tory candidates, seats where unusual circumstances affected the last election and seats whose MPs who win on the back of personal loyalty rather than party success may be standing down.

Much of this reasoning may well never become public, but some seats do leap out. The ultra-marginals like Bolton West are there for obvious reasons, as are high profile marginals like Morley and Outwood where Ed Balls hung grimly onto his scalp last time round. There are personality politicians like Alan Beith in Berwick, whom some speculate may retire in 2015. And there are anomalies like Portsmouth South, where party strategists are understandably keen not to be caught short without a candidate in place should Mike Hancock have to resign for whatever reason.

What we do know is that the majorities in the seats where candidates have been selected so far range from 0.1% in Hampstead and Kilburn to 21.8% in Corby and East Northamptonshire. When we discount Cardiff North, the average majority to be overturned is 5.38% - or in 2,400 votes. Many are undoubtedly tough nuts to crack, hence the candidate selection taking place more than two years before the election.

Hitting the Lib Dems

One thing sure to please those concerned that Coalition has softened the party's attitudes towards the Lib Dems is the party split. 19 of the seats are held by Liberal Democrats, and 20 are held by Labour - representing a disproportionate focus on putting candidates in place early in Lib Dem seats. One in three yellow MPs have Conservative candidates on their patch, breathing down their necks, whereas for Labour that number is less than one in twelve.

Whether that disparity is due to awareness that the conservative grassroots have no great love for the Lib Dems, or the feeling that 2015 may offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to winkle some of them out of their strongholds, the intention is there to fight them properly, rather than give them an easy run.

The candidates

So what does the cohort of Conservative candidates look like?

Eleven of the 40 are female - a ratio which exceeds the current Parliamentary mix of 22% without the use of positive discrimination. All but one of these candidates are standing against male incumbents.

Judging by those whose age is publicly available, the new Conservative candidates are a surprisingly young group, too. The average age is a few days short of 40. There is a wide range of experience, from 24 up to 66, but a definite predominance of those in their late 30s and early 40s, old enough to have done something in their lives.

And the things they have done are reassuringly varied. There are two former soldiers and two engineers, two career paths which have been sadly lacking on the Conservative benches in recent years. A quarter run their own businesses, three are lawyers, two journalists, two teachers and one local postman.

This scatter is a sign of a shifting campaign strategy. Just as the party has looked again at its choice of seats to target, it has started to wake up to the importance of having candidates drawn from a broad variety of backgrounds. While Ed Miliband has made great play of his aspiration to have a wide range of candidates at the next election, it seems the Conservatives have stolen a march on him by putting such candidates in place.

There is a clear pattern in the political experience of these PPCs, too. Relatively few of them will have their first taste of electioneering in 2015, meaning most have been through the mill and have sharpened their skills over the course of years.

A new strategy

13 have stood for Parliament before, many of them in the seats they have now been selected to fight again - such as Royston Smith in Southampton Itchen, Rowena Holland in Nottingham South and the excellent Anne-Marie Trevelyan in Berwick. It is right that the selection process should recognise not only the dedication involved in having run for Parliament in the past but also the electoral benefit of sticking with candidates who have made in-roads into a sitting MP's majority. Far too often in the past we have thrown away progress made by good candidates in tough seats and put new faces to work regaining ground lost since the last election.

That isn't the only good news. The bulk of those who have not previously been Parliamentary candidates have experience of local politics - there are two Members of the Welsh Assembly, as well as numerous councillors and group leaders on the list. Combine that with the fact that around three quarters are local candidates, so far as I can ascertain, and there are signs the selection process is properly recognising the benefit of experience, local knowledge and name recognition.

The A-list experiment was a well-publicised mess in the run up to the 2010 General Election. The feeling that it was a mechanism for parachuting or forcing preferred candidates into seats without the due groundwork or elbow grease was hugely damaging to grassroots relations as well as public perception.

Judging by these early selections, some hard lessons may have been learned from what went wrong. Picking local candidates, entrepreneurs, councillors and experienced campaigners do not guaranteed victory but it certainly helps - particularly in the midst of a backlash against the Westminster elite. 

Improvements to be made

There are certainly areas where things could improve further. Gathering the information for this article revealed that most of the candidates still lack their own website, and some Associations in what should be front line target seats evidently lack the resources to keep their own sites up to date. If these seats are due for extra campaigning funds, then they ought to start receiving them soon to make the most of the early selections.

40 candidates will only ever be a foretaste of the hundreds of selections which will take place in the run-up to 2015. However, if these PPCs are anything to go by, the Conservative slate in 2015 is set to be a lot more appealing to party members, a lot more effective on the doorstep and, hopefully, a lot more successful at the ballot box.

Over the next few weeks we will be running a series of quick-fire interviews with as many of these 40 PPCs as possible. The full list of those selected so far is enclosed below.

Berwick upon Tweed: Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Birmingham Northfield: Rachel Maclean
Bolton West: Christopher Green
Brecon and Radnorshire: Christopher Davies
Cardiff North: Craig Williams
Cheadle: Mary Robinson
Cheltenham: Alex Chalk
Chippenham: Michelle Donelan
Chorley: Robert Loughenbury
Colchester: Will Quince
Corby and East Northamptonshire: Tom Pursglove
Delyn: Mark Allan Isherwood
Derby North: Amanda Solloway
Dudley North: Afzal Amin
Eastbourne: Caroline Ansell
Gower: Byron Davies
Halifax: Philip Allott
Hampstead and Kilburn: Simon Marcus
Harrow West: Hannah David
Hazel Grove: William Wragg
Mid Dorset and North Poole: Michael Tomlinson
Morley and Outwood: Andrea Jenkyns
Newcastle-Under-Lyme: Tony Cox
North Cornwall: Scott Mann
North Devon: Peter Heaton-Jones
North East Derbyshire: Lee Rowley
Nottingham South: Rowena Holland
Portsmouth South: Flick Drummond
Solihull: Julian Knight
Somerton and Frome: David Warburton
Southampton Itchen: Royston Smith
St. Austell & Newquay: Stephen Double
St. Ives: Derek Thomas
Sutton & Cheam: Paul Scully
Telford: Lucy Allan
Torbay: Kevin Foster
Vale of Clwyd: James Davies
Walsall North: Douglas Hansen Luke
Wells: James Heappey
Wirral South: John Bell

16 Feb 2013 12:21:59

Rachel Frosh should not have been removed from the candidates list for saying Hitler was a Socialist

By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter

Dr Rachel Frosh has been removed the Conservative Party candidates list and forced to resign as the Deputy Police and Crime Comissioner in Hertfordshire.

The reason was that she used her Twitter account to retweet  message with this graphic:

HitlergraphicIt is certainly provocative. Many socialists will have found it uncomfortable reading. Some may not have known that the Nazis were National Socialists - and those who did know might not care to be reminded of it.

Furthermore the message introduced the graphic with the words: "Dear Socialists, embrace your inner Nazism." The implication of this bit of the Tweet was unfair. Social democrats are socialists. Nazis are socialists. But social democrats are not Nazis. It is quite apparent that Dr Frosh understands this. Had it been her tweet therefore she would doubtless have given it a different wording. The point is that it wasn't her tweet, she was retweeting.

As Dan Hannan says the central message remains important. It is not some purely historical point. We have National Socialists in this country today in the form of the British National Party. They, along with Hitler, are routinely labelled "far right" by the BBC. The implication being that they are offering a strong a pure  form of Conservatism. By constantly maintaining this association "right wing" becomes a term of abuse.

Mr Hannan adds that in the 1930s:

The Nazis could hardly have been more open in their socialism, describing themselves with the same terminology as our own SWP: National Socialist German Workers' Party.

Almost everyone in those days accepted that fascism had emerged from the revolutionary Left. Its militants marched on May Day under red flags. Its leaders stood for collectivism, state control of industry, high tariffs, workers' councils. Around Europe, fascists were convinced that, as Hitler told an enthusiastic Mussolini in 1934, 'capitalism has run its course'.

One of the most stunning achievements of the modern Left is to have created a cultural climate where simply to recite these facts is jarring. History is reinterpreted, and it is taken as axiomatic that fascism must have been Right-wing, the logic seemingly being that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists were nasty. You expect this level of analysis from Twitter mobs; you shouldn't expect it from mainstream commentators.

I don't know who at CCHQ made the decision to remove (I hope merely suspended) Dr Frosh from the candidates list. There can sometimes be rough justice in these cases when there is the urgency of pressure from the media. However a terrible mistake has been made. Highlighting the socialist nature of Nazism is an important task for Conservatives. No Conservative should for a moment allow the description of Nazism, fascism of the BNP as "right wing" or "far right" to go unchallenged.

Dr Frosh is owed an apology from the Conservative Party.  She should be reinstated onto the candidates list. Any constituency association that chooses her as a candidate will be making an excellent choice.

31 Jan 2013 21:51:38

Candidates are now being selected for Cardiff North, Corby, Hazel Grove and Solihull

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

The party has announced that it's now selecting candidates for four more seats. They are:

Cardiff North, Conservative maj of 194
Corby, Labour maj of 7,791
Hazel Grove, Lib Dem maj of 6,371
Solihull, Lib Dem maj of 175

Given that two of the seats were won by the Tories at the last election—Corby, which was subsequently lost in a byelection, and Cardiff North, where Jonathan Evans is standing down as MP—we're not quite sure how this fits in with CCHQ's 40/40 strategy. We shall try to update you as we hear more.

31 Jan 2013 11:36:26

Candidates selected for Hampstead & Kilburn and Gower

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

Simon MarcusTwo more candidates have been chosen for the 2015 election. The first, Simon Marcus for Hampstead and Kilburn. He’s an excellent choice. Not only did he beat the BNP’s Nick Griffin into third place in Barking in 2010, but he also founded the Boxing Academy, based in Tottenham and Hackney, which offers an “alternative education” for disadvantaged teenagers who might otherwise slide into crime and gang culture. In fact, he wrote about it in a post for ConservativeHome a couple of years ago. Here’s a taster from it:

“Children need love, but tough love. The Boxing Academy is based on this principle and it works. Our mentors are all amateur boxers or martial artists and our staff cannot be bullied. The kids respect them. Our staff take calculated risks to get through to our students, some of whom don’t want to leave at the end of the day. We teach GCSEs, life skills and a full sports curriculum, but boxing is the key. Opposite to what many well-meaning liberals say, it does not teach you to be more violent but helps you to calm down and control your anger. Children see the discipline, the work ethic, the authority of a coach, the much needed father figure, the sense of achievement, the decision making, the control of aggression and the self-respect inherent in Boxing and learn that the use of force has a place, comes with responsibility and is not for the street.”

No doubt because of this work, Mr Marcus was appointed to the panel of the inquiry established to look into the London riots of 2011. He is also—like so many of the candidates announced so far—a Tory councillor.

Continue reading "Candidates selected for Hampstead & Kilburn and Gower" »

30 Jan 2013 16:05:31

Candidates selected for the two target seats of Cheltenham and St Austell & Newquay

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

Two more Tory candidates have been selected for 2015. They are Alex Chalk and Stephen Double — and, although they deserve congratulating, of course, as individuals, there are some striking parallels between the pair.

Both will be contesting target seats that are currently held by Lib Dems. In Mr Chalk’s case, it’s the seat of Cheltenham, which has been shaded yellow since 1992, and where Martin Horwood has a majority of 4,920. In Mr Double’s, it’s St Austell and Newquay, a seat created for the last election, when Stephen Gilbert won a 1,312 vote majority.

And, as with many of the candidates announced so far, both have a history of local-level activism. Mr Chalk, a criminal barrister who was brought up in the Cheltenham constituency, is a councillor London's Hammersmith and Fulham Conncil. Mr Double is Deputy Mayor of St Austell town council, as well as a school governor, a trustee of a local community trust and a volunteer with Volunteer Cornwall.

Anyway, here’s what they have to say in response to their selections. Mr Clark describes his priorities as:

“ promote the local economy, jobs and growth; tackle the legacy of Labour’s debt, secure a strong future for the NHS and improve local education particularly in Maths and the sciences.”

And Mr Double has said:

“I am incredibly honoured and delighted to have been selected as the next Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party for St Austell and Newquay. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported and encouraged me along the way and especially to all those who came out on a wild Cornish evening to attend the selection husting. This area has been my home for my whole life and it is a place I love and care about deeply. I now look forward to working with and for local people in the campaign for the next General Election. I have had a Liberal as my MP since I was 8 years old. It is time to change that!”

22 Jan 2013 22:06:49

Derek Thomas selected to contest St Ives in 2015

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

Derek ThomasAnother day, another candidate selected for 2015. The seat in question is St. Ives in Cornwall, and the newly selected candidate is the local businessman—Cornish stone mason, in fact—Derek Thomas. Congratulations to him.

Just like the last candidate to be selected, Rowena Holland in Nottingham South, Mr Thomas contested the same seat at the last election. And, just like Dr Holland, he put in an encouraging performance. He achieved a 10.4 per cent swing against the Liberal Democrat’s Andrew George, who has held the seat since 1997, to finish only 1,719 votes behind. Mr George isn’t exactly the most coalitious of MPs, so CCHQ probably won’t fell too much remorse if he gets deposed in 2015...

Here, to finish, is what Mr Thomas said in response to his selection this evening:

“I am delighted to have been selected once again to represent a constituency I care passionately about. I grew up here, I live here and I work here. It is a great privilege to serve this beautiful part of the United Kingdom.

I will do all I can to build a healthy, prosperous and caring community in West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. I will work to ensure that healthcare is delivered as close to home as possible.

I will campaign on behalf of our youngsters so they get the education and opportunities they need to love full and active lives.”

18 Jan 2013 15:30:39

Rowena Holland selected to contest Nottingham South in 2015

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

RowenaHollandA short post to congratulate Dr Rowena Holland on being selected as the Conservative candidate for Nottingham South. The selection was announced last night.

Dr Holland was, in fact, the candidate for Nottingham South at the last election — and performed admirably. In a seat that has been held by Labour since 1992, she placed only 1,772 votes behind that party’s Lilian Greenwood, and achieved a swing towards the Conservatives of 7.4 per cent. Notwithstanding the 8.7 per cent swing that Martin Curtis achieved in Nottingham North, that was probably the best Tory result in the city in 2010.

And Dr Holland is also a Conservative councillor, for the North West Leicestershire District Council. This fits into a trend, that Paul noted recently, for selecting candidates with a record of service to the party.

Anyway, she faces quite a battle now: Conservatives lost out in the last local elections in Nottingham, and Labour’s campaign against a directly-elected mayor for the city even drew Eric Pickles’ ire. She has started that fight with the statement below:

Continue reading "Rowena Holland selected to contest Nottingham South in 2015" »

15 Dec 2011 10:39:01

Feltham and Heston goes to the polls today

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

BALLOT BOX 1The voters of Feltham and Heston go to the polls today. Senior Conservatives are still heading to the seat in an effort to Get Out The Vote, including Iain Duncan Smith and Liam Fox. 

ConservativeHome wishes good luck to the candidate, Mark Bowen, and encourages residents of the seat to vote Conservative!

> Yesterday, Mark Bowen wrote to the Labour candidate, to find out if she supports David Cameron's European veto

14 Dec 2011 16:39:10

Tory candidate in Feltham & Heston asks Labour's one: where do you stand on our EU veto?

Conservative candidate in the Feltham & Heston by-election, Mark Bowen, has written to Labour's Seema Malhotra highlighting that Cameron's veto of the EU treaty has a lot of support among traditional Labour supporters. He also asks her whether she is with the British people or the Labour party to deal with the economic crisis:

BowenDear Seema

You will know from knocking on doors in Feltham and Heston that local people have responded positively to the Prime Minister’s use of the veto in Brussels last week. He came to Feltham and Heston to support my campaign on the day he travelled to Brussels for the summit and he was absolutely clear then, that he would stand up for Britain and that is exactly what he did.

The polls show strong support for David Cameron’s stance, even amongst Labour voters.  

This week aides of your leader Ed Miliband started briefing journalists that he too would have vetoed the proposed EU treaty – despite strongly criticising the Prime Minister’s decision.

Where do you stand on this? At our hustings you said membership of the EU was a no-brainer, which is a far clearer statement than Ed Miliband has made over the last week.

Can you tell me, and the people of Feltham and Heston, if you support the Prime Minister’s action in standing up for Britain?

On the economy, polls also show that the British people back the government’s plan to deal with Labour’s deficit so we don’t pass it on to the children of Feltham and Heston to deal with. In a recent poll, three-quarters of people said we should pay off the deficit as soon as possible - just 18% disagreeing. Over half of Labour voters said the government should not borrow anymore. 

Do you agree with the British people on the economy, or do you back Labour’s plans which would see mortgage payments soar for hard working families in Feltham and Heston?

Kind regards,

Mark Bowen

25 Nov 2011 09:56:18

Adrian Hilton: Cameron’s continuing quest for female candidates

Screen shot 2011-11-25 at 09.54.09It’s always good to clear out the garage or purge the attic of junk, detritus, bad memories and dead wood. There’s something therapeutically cathartic about rationalising a crowded space and establishing a new order. The only potential hazard is the sort of over-zealous purgation which hastily discards a lifetime of faded boxes you never thought you’d need, only to realise, years later, they actually contained treasures and photographs, yellow with years but utterly unique and irreplaceable. Today’s surplus and dispensable can be tomorrow’s necessary, valued and very much desired.

A year ago, Tim Montgomerie reported that CCHQ had embarked upon a mass culling of the Approved List of Candidates. That’s okay: politics isn’t fair, as David Cameron said to Patrick Mercer. And so hundreds of parliamentary hopefuls (not to say loyal Party volunteers) were summarily struck off following a 45-minute interview with ‘senior party workers’ which purported to measure such qualitative criteria as ‘manner and attitude’, the ‘ability to relate to people’, and ‘commitment to inclusion and diversity’. Despite every one of these Party members having already passed (and paid for) a comprehensive, thorough, day-long Parliamentary Assessment Board (PAB), and having unequivocally established their unwavering commitment to the Party and conservative values (not, of course, always the same thing), they were judged to be somehow deficient, and so eradicated.

The cleansing was wholly ethnic (ie white) and the overwhelming majority of those removed were male (ie 97%). There were a few exceptions, perhaps most notably the case of Annunziata Rees-Mogg (aka Nancy Mogg), whose sorry plight occupied the pages of the Mail on Sunday for a couple of weeks, with her brother elegantly (as he does) proclaiming:

“The attitude of Central Office is shameful... I think my sister has been treated disgracefully by an unjust procedure that brings the party into disrepute. Traditionally the Candidates’ department was well run by an experienced MP and senior members of the voluntary party. It is now run by arrogant, discourteous apparatchiks.”

Jacob is right about ‘traditionally’, and also about ‘arrogant, discourteous apparatchiks’. I doubt he’d have made past two modernising assessors on ‘manner and attitude’ or the ‘ability to relate to people’. He had the audacity to criticise Carlyn Chisholm, the current Chairman of the Candidates’ Committee, for her ‘poor manners’. He’s right about that, too.

Continue reading "Adrian Hilton: Cameron’s continuing quest for female candidates" »