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.

11 Jun 2013 06:34:54

The Mitchell investigation has involved 30 police officers, cost almost £150,000, taken eight months...and got nowhere

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.                                                                           

Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 23.29.23Andrew Mitchell's campaign for restoration to the Cabinet went up a gear yesterday afternoon as senior Conservative and Labour MPs piled into the Met Commissioner:

Richard Ottoway (Croydon South): "We have a situation where police from the Met appear to have fabricated evidence against a Cabinet Minister; the Met Commissioner is put in charge of the investigation and admits to discussing the case with journalists; in breach of his own rules, he fails to keep a note of the discussion; and, six months later, we do not even have a report. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Commissioner has a lot of questions to answer?"

Tom Watson (West Bromwich East):  "After a terribly bruising encounter at the hands of the media, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr  Mitchell) attempted to clear his name in the press. It now seems apparent that he was the victim of media spin at the highest level of the Metropolitan police. Does the Minister understand that this case is particularly important not because the wronged party was a Member of Parliament but because it could happen to any one of our constituents who do not have the vehicle to put things right?"

Continue reading "The Mitchell investigation has involved 30 police officers, cost almost £150,000, taken eight months...and got nowhere" »

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.

5 Jun 2013 06:55:11

Gnawed nails for Big Name Sponsor as AFC Bluebirds cling on for close win. Coming soon: grudge match with Demon Eyes

Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 15.30.49AFC Bluebirds approached their weekly Monday night matches with a sense of nervous anticipation as they looked to impress their big-name sponsor, watching the team for the first time, in the hope of attracting a new multi-pound sponsorship deal for next season.

From the start, it was clear it was going to be a close match but some tight defending and quite brilliant goalkeeping from Joe Cawley kept the score vaguely respectable, however, some stinging long-range efforts from the opposition did see Bluebirds trailing 4-2 at half time.

Much like the parliamentary party, the second half of the game was undermined by classic Tory infighting and chuntering about 'leadership' from the back.  The final score for the first match was not flattering, losing 8-3, despite some good individual performances.

Knowing that the sponsor was checking his watch and his e-mails with alarming regularity owing to the team’s performance in the first game, the Bluebirds redoubled their efforts in an attempt to live up to his expectations for the second game of the night.

Live up to those expectations Bluebirds did.  Ed de Minckwitz (pictured) led the line scoring five goals in an incredible performance that recalled the performances of the great Jean Pierre-Papin.  Joe Cawley, in goal again, played brilliantly.

At half time the match stood at 6-1 with the Bluebirds coasting to a victory.  Sadly, the team took their foot off the gas, almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, conceding several goals without reply.

The final few minutes of the game, with the match delicately poised with one goal between the two teams, left those on the touchline nervous to the point of not being able to watch.  Finally, the referee blew his whistle to call proceedings to a close, the team having held onto their slender lead winning 8-7.

The sponsor left the football centre enthralled and discussing the upcoming grudge match against Demon Eyes, a Labour team, on 13 July.

Editor's Note: Mystery surrounds the identity of the greying and overweight middle-aged man who inserted himself into the picture above by claiming to represent the sponsor. Readers are warned not to approach him, but to report any sightings to the nearest police station.

1 Jun 2013 15:18:56

It's time for privatisation of the "All Party Parliamentary groups"

By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter

There are nearly 600 All Party Parliamentary Groups. Each one has a committee of MPs devoted to a special subject. The Chagos Islands, Liechtenstein, Philately, Brass Bands, Cider, Jazz Appreciation and Zoos each have their own group. I can't see the one for Fiji set up by Patrick Mercer - although the register is from April so maybe this ill-fated body will appear on  the radar in due course.

Despite controversy regarding Fiji's human rights record it is not so surprising that Mr Mercer was able to recruit members. Part of the idea of these groups countries around the globe is that MPs go on free trips hosted by the Government concerned. A jolly to Fiji, staying in smart hotels, sounds most agreeable. Coral and cocktails. Obviously one wouldn't want to insult one's hosts with a lot of impertinent questions about the arbitrary arrest of journalists.

There have been plenty of calls for an investigation into APGs being used as front organisations for lobbyists even before Mr Mercer's case. Some may be surprised that MPs have to invent such ingenious ways to occupy their time.

Then there is also the amount of taxpayers money handed over to these groups for such vital activities as drinks, receptions, foreign travel and administrative support. For example the All-Party Parliamentary
Group for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
exists "to campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances." It gets £20,939 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But have the group yet persuaded Foreign Secretary William Hague? When Mr Hague was Conservative leader he made clear his support for capital punishment.

Continue reading "It's time for privatisation of the "All Party Parliamentary groups"" »

31 May 2013 11:47:36

Patrick Mercer resigns the Tory whip after Panorama sting

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

12.05 update: Here's Patrick Mercer's statement:

“Panorama are planning to broadcast a programme alleging that I have broken Parliamentary rules. I am taking legal advice about these allegations, and I have referred myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

In the meantime, to save my Party embarrassment, I have resigned the Conservative Whip and have so informed Sir George Young. I have also decided not to stand at the next General Election.”

And Downing Street’s response:

“The PM is aware. He thinks Patrick Mercer has done the right thing in referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and resigning the whip. It’s important that the due processes take their course.”

Continue reading "Patrick Mercer resigns the Tory whip after Panorama sting" »

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

30 May 2013 07:09:40

Martin Callanan MEP: My colleague Vicky Ford fights off a directive that would have damaged our oil industry

Martin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives. This is his monthly letter to ConHome readers. Follow the ECR Group on Twitter.


As EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss energy prices and tax evasion, the European Parliament was in Strasbourg again for our monthly session, once again highlighting the folly of the Parliament's travelling circus.

It wasn't the heaviest agenda we've had, as the Commission begins to churn out less legislation towards the end of its term. However, a few significant votes were heavily improved thanks to the work of Conservative MEPs.

Firstly, MEPs voted on proposals to update regulation on oil and gas drilling. The review was the result of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and initially a number of MEPs from the left had sought to use the incident to impose a moratorium on all drilling operations across Europe. Thankfully, we were able to kill that suggestion at an early stage. However, when the Commission brought forward its initial legislation, we were worried that it would be harmful for the North Sea installations.

As it stood, the law was a regulation, which directly imposes strict technical standards from the centre, yet similar to those that already operate in the North Sea. Our lead MEP on the issue, Vicky Ford, was able to change this proposal line-by-line from a regulation into a more flexible directive, which allows for greater interpretation at the national level. Seeing as the EU was seeking to impose UK standards on the rest of the EU, a regulation would have done nothing to improve safety around our shores, but it would have required the technical manuals and procedures to be completely re-written, at a cost of over £140 million in legal and administration fees.

Instead, thanks to Vicky's work, this won't be necessary, and instead of the tick-box safety culture that the Commission wanted, we will now have a culture of learning best practice from each other - which has been the approach that has made the North Sea the global standard since the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988. At a time of high energy prices, Vicky has been able to avoid adding costs onto energy producers that would have been pushed through to consumers in their bills.

- - -

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: My colleague Vicky Ford fights off a directive that would have damaged our oil industry" »

21 May 2013 20:42:52

127 Tory MPs oppose the same sex marriage bill, but it still passes the Commons

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

The votes are in, and the same sex marriage bill has passed its third reading in the Commons by 366 votes to 161. Of those voting no, 134 were Tories (including 7 abstentions), with 14 Labour MPs, four Lib Dems, eight Democratic Unionists and an independent.

We've posted a full list of how Tory MPs voted below. The 'no' column includes David Jones and Owen Paterson, as well as a smattering of junior ministers, PPSs and whips. As the Times's Billy Kenber tweets:


The bill now moves to the Lords, so it is not yet a done deal – but what Tim Montgomerie rightly presaged as one of David Cameron's "three historic moral achievements" is well on its way to actually being achieved.

Here's that breakdown of how Tory MPs voted:


Stuart Andrew
Harriett Baldwin
Stephen Barclay
Greg Barker
John Baron
Gavin Barwell
Richard Benyon
Crispin Blunt
Nick Boles
Peter Bottomley
Karen Bradley
James Brokenshire
Aidan Burley
Alistair Burt
Dan Byles
David Cameron
Neil Carmichael
Greg Clark
Oliver Colville
Tracey Crouch
Stephen Dorrell
James Duddridge
Alan Duncan
Iain Duncan Smith
Michael Ellis
Jane Ellison
Tobias Ellwood
Michael Fabricant
Mark Field
Mike Freer
Lorraine Fullbrook
Richard Fuller
David Gauke
Nick Gibb
Zac Goldsmith
Michael Gove
Helen Grant
Chris Grayling
Damian Green
Justine Greening
Ben Gummer
Sam Gyimah
Stephen Hammond
Matthew Hancock
Greg Hands
Mark Harper
Richard Harrington
Rebecca Harris
Chris Heaton-Harris
Charles Hendry
Nick Herbert
Damian Hinds
George Hollingbery
Kris Hopkins
Jeremy Hunt
Margot James
Sajid Javid
Bernard Jenkin
Jo Johnson
Andrew Jones
Daniel Kawczynski
Simon Kirby
Andrew Lansley
Pauline Latham
Jessica Lee
Oliver Letwin
Brandon Lewis
Peter Luff
Jason McCartney
Mary Macleod
Patrick McLoughlin
Francis Maude
Theresa May
Mark Menzies
Maria Miller
Nigel Mills
Andrew Mitchell
Penny Mordaunt
Stephen Mosley
David Mowat
Brooks Newmark
Eric Ollerenshaw
Guy Opperman
George Osborne
Richard Ottaway
John Penrose
Andrew Percy
Stephen Phillips
Eric Pickles
Daniel Poulter
Dominic Raab
Mark Reckless
Hugh Robertson
Laura Sandys
Grant Shapps
Mark Simmonds
Chris Skidmore
Chloe Smith
Julian Smith
Anna Soubry
Caroline Spelman
Andrew Stephenson
Iain Stewart
Justin Tomlinson
Elizabeth Truss
Ed Vaizey
Theresa Villiers
Charles Walker
Robin Walker
Dame Angela Watkinson
Mike Weatherley
David Willetts
Dr Sarah Wollaston
Tim Yeo
Sir George Young
Nadhim Zahawi

Conservative teller for the ayes: Desmond Swayne


Nigel Adams
Adam Afriyie
Peter Aldous
David Amess
Richard Bacon
Guto Bebb
Henry Bellingham
Sir Paul Beresford
Andrew Bingham
Nicola Blackwood
Peter Bone
Graham Brady
Julian Brazier
Andrew Bridgen
Steve Brine
Fiona Bruce
Robert Buckland
Simon Burns
David Burrowes
Douglas Carswell
Bill Cash
Rehman Chishti
Christopher Chope
Therese Coffey
Geoffrey Cox
Stephen Crabb
David Davies
Glyn Davies
Philip Davies
David Davis
Nick de Bois
Nadine Dorries
Jackie Doyle-Price
Richard Drax
Philip Dunne
Charlie Elphicke
Jonathan Evans
David Evennett
Dr Liam Fox
Mark Francois
George Freeman
Roger Gale
Sir Edward Garnier
Mark Garnier
Cheryl Gillan
John Glen
Robert Goodwill
James Gray
Andrew Griffiths
Robert Halfon
Simon Hart
Sir Alan Haselhurst
John Hayes
Oliver Heald
Gordon Henderson
Philip Hollobone
Adam Holloway
Sir Gerald Howarth
Stewart Jackson
Gareth Johnson
David Jones
Marcus Jones
Chris Kelly
Kwasi Kwarteng
Phillip Lee
Jeremy Lefroy
Edward Leigh
Julian Lewis
Ian Liddell-Grainger
David Lidington
Peter Lilley
Jonathan Lord
Tim Loughton
Karen Lumley
Karl McCartney
Stephen McPartland
Esther McVey
Anne Main
Paul Maynard
Stephen Metcalfe
Anne Milton
Nicky Morgan
Anne-Marie Morris
David Morris
James Morris
Bob Neill
David Nuttall
Stephen O’Brien
Matthew Offord
Jim Paice
Neil Parish
Priti Patel
Owen Paterson
Mark Pawsey
Mike Penning
Mark Pritchard
John Redwood
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Andrew Robathan
Laurence Robertson
Andrew Rosindell
David Rutley
Lee Scott
Andrew Selous
Alec Shelbrooke
Sir Richard Shepherd
Henry Smith
Sir John Stanley
John Stevenson
Bob Stewart
Mel Stride
Julian Sturdy
Robert Syms
David Tredinnick
Andrew Turner
Shailesh Vara
Martin Vickers
Ben Wallace
Robert Walter
James Wharton
Heather Wheeler
Craig Whittaker
John Whittingdale
Bill Wiggin
Gavin Williamson
Jeremy Wright

Tellers for the noes: Mr John Randall and Mark Lancaster

The 7 Tory MPs who abstained (by voting no and aye): Graham Evans, John Howell, Andrea Leadsom, Phillip Lee, Charlotte Leslie, Claire Perry and Rob Wilson

18 May 2013 16:53:06

Tory MEPs' Leader Richard Ashworth and ex-UKIP defector Marta Andreasen deselected

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter

As if any further proof of grassroots dissatisfaction were needed, I've just been told by two sources that Richard Ashworth MEP - the Leader of the Conservative MEP Group in the European Parliament - and Marta Andreasen MEP - who recently defected from UKIP - have been deselected as candidates for the South East of England in next year's Euro elections.

This is significant not only because it suggests party members are becoming more willing than ever to flex their muscles on what they feel to be substandard representatives, but also because of the people who did the flexing. The regional electoral college is not the full membership of the party, it is their elected representatives - regional and constituency officials, representatives of bodies like the Conservative Women's Organisation and others who can hardly be described as disruptive elements, extremists or, whisper it, "swivel-eyed loons".

So not only will the Conservative MEPs be looking for a new Leader rather soon, the party leadership is in receipt of a rather unequivocal message. If even the reputedly tame electoral college is sacking sitting MEPs and rejecting defectors whom the leadership chose to let into the Conservative fold, they have serious problems.


Further to the above, an examination of the bizarre selection rules shows that today's vote - the most severe rebuke the electoral college can give to sitting MEPs - means Ashworth and Andreasen will now go into the general postal ballot of the membership.

As we have covered on ConHome before, the selection process is heavily biased in favour of sitting MEPs. Today's vote means that while Daniel Hannan and Nirj Deva have been reselected as MEPs, and thus have special privileges which put them at the top of the regional list, Andreasen and Ashworth lose those privileges.

Now it is down to the Conservative Party members in the South East to decide where on the list they should be ranked. Towards the top might offer them some chance of being returned as MEPs, anything outside the top two or three at a push would mean almost zero chance of re-election and as the shortlist will contain more names than there are seats, they may be dumped from the list altogether. 

Assuming, of course, that after today's humiliation they decide to continue in the process at all.

16 May 2013 15:15:06

MEP shortlists for the North West and London

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter

Following Scotland's selections last week, the North West and London have now carried out the first stage of selecting candidates for next year's European elections.

Readers may need a reminder of the slightly obscure process: first the regional electoral college choose the shortlist. If sitting MEPs are reapproved at this stage then they automatically go to the top of the list.

After that, the party members in the region rank the remaining candidates in order by postal vote. 

These are therefore the unranked shortlists, and are presented in alphabetical order by surname.

Continue reading "MEP shortlists for the North West and London" »

16 May 2013 11:03:23

In public, Tory MPs are backing rebels. But in private, they're voting for loyalists.

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

Buckland RobertThat over 100 Conservative MPs voted for John Baron's amendment yesterday evening suggests that they agreed with it - that's common sense, after all, isn't it?  But matters are rarely that simple in the House of Commons.

A picture is beginning to emerge of Tory MPs who disagreed with the motion but still backed it.  Why?  Because they didn't want to explain to their Associations and constituents that in their view David Cameron's new EU referendum bill pledge rendered the amendment unnecessary.

James Kirkup writes this morning about the power of local Associations and the shrinking of the Conservative member base.  He is correct (as usual).  But fear of local voters counted as much yesterday evening as fear of local activists - at least for MPs in marginal seats,

Some of them are furious with Baron for pushing his amendment to the vote, and claim to have told him so.  It can be argued that this reflects badly on them, rather than Baron - that if they disagreed with his amendment, they shouldn't have voted for it.

This week's '22 Committee elections also suggest that while their votes were with Baron, their hearts were elsewhere.  Robert Buckland is an outspoken supporter of Britain's E.U membership - and thus a rarity among the 2010 intake of Conservative MPs.

At roughly the same time as yesterday evening's vote, it was announced that he has been re-elected as a secretary of the 1922 Committee's executive committee.  In public, Tory MPs may be backing the rebels, but in private they are supporting the loyalists.

15 May 2013 19:36:32

114 Tory MPs vote for the Baron amendment

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

130 MPs voted in favour of John Baron's amendment expressing regret at the absence of an EU Referendum Bill in the Queen's speech. 277 voted against.

Peter Bone, who was a teller for those supporting the amendment, has confirmed that 114 of the 130 were Tory MPs. That exceeds the 100 that Philip Hollobone was anticipating, and it far exceeds the 60 or so that some in Government were talking about. There were also 12 Labour MPs, 4 DUP and one Lib Dem.

Although it's not strictly a rebellion – thanks to the oddities listed by Andrew Sparrow here – it's still rather embarrassing for David Cameron. It seems that the draft EU Referendum Bill rushed out yesterday did very little to sway hearts and ayes. Many of his MPs don't think he's doing enough to reassure the public of his intentions.

And the whipping operation? According to Zac Goldsmith, this was a truly free vote with "no pressure from the Whips", so may help absolve them. But it doesn't shake the fact that Team Cameron won't be thrilled with tonight's outcome – or, more exactly, with this whole farrago in the first place.

Anyway, here's the list of the 114 Tory MPs who supported the amendment:

Continue reading "114 Tory MPs vote for the Baron amendment" »

13 May 2013 17:25:23

70 MPs sign up for EU referendum

By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter

The BBC's Norman Smith tweets that 70 MPs have so far signed the amendment to the Queen's Speech from John Baron MP which "but respectfully regret that an EU referendum bill was not included in the Gracious Speech."

Mr Smith adds that the DUP MPs have decided to support it.

The following signaturies currently appear on tthe Order Paper which I make 52:

  • John Baron
  • Peter Bone
  • Philip Hollobone
  • Philip Davies
  • Kelvin Hopkins
  • John Cryer
  • Douglas Carswell
  • Edward Leigh
  • John Redwood
  • David Davis
  • Bernard Jenkin
  • Dr Matthew Offord
  • William Cash
  • Crispin Blunt
  • Aidan Burley
  • Karen Lumley
  • Andrew Rosindell
  • Bill Wiggin
  • Chris Kelly
  • David Nuttall
  • Cheryl Gillan
  • Andrew Bingham
  • Fiona Bruce
  • Craig Whittaker
  • James Gray
  • Adam Afriyie
  • Jason McCartney
  • Henry Smith
  • Andrew Percy
  • Mark Pritchard
  • Ian Liddell-Grainger
  • James Clappison
  • Anne Main
  • Stephen McPartland
  • Heather Wheeler
  • Charles Walker
  • Sheryll Murray
  • Laurence Robertson
  • Bob Stewart
  • Richard Drax
  • Martin Vickers
  • Mike Weatherley
  • Gordon Henderson
  • Zac Goldsmith
  • Kate Hoey
  • Steve Brine
  • Nigel Mills
  • Andrew Turner
  • Julian Lewis
  • John Stevenson
  • Guto Bebb
  • Nick de Bois
  • Brian Binley
No doubt if Mr Smith is correct some more names will be there tomorrow.

12 May 2013 08:54:36

MEP selections start with Scotland

The process of selection (or re-selection in many cases) of candidates for the 2014 European Parliament elections has begun. Most constituencies are still going through the first stage, of selecting which candidates will make the list, before going to a full postal ballot of party members to choose the order in which they will be ranked.

Scotland has got in early, though, despite using the more traditional system of numerous hustings around the country. The list is all-new, as the sitting Conservative MEP, Struan Stevenson, intends to step down at the elections.

Continue reading "MEP selections start with Scotland" »