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"Freeze on all candidate selections while a new system that guarantees diversity, fairness and meritocracy is put in place"

Each of those three aims will conflict with the other two.

Point 5: So Cameron's offering Priority candidates which still have to go through local selection methods alongside other candidates? So whats the point of point 2? Its suggesting that local asociations dont have to pick the offered candidate...

Am I reading this wrong?

What a banal action plan. It seems our new leader's aim is skin deep diversity, with all the concerns expressed being about gender, ethnicity and disability. The point stands that candidates are drawn from a relatively narrow pool, and whether the candidate is gay or straight, or man or woman doesn't actually address the drawbacks that entails.

Can anyone explain how you can combine (a) meritocracy with (b) equality of outcome.

Good point Sean. The idea of marrying the two is great and a wonderful aspiration but in practice its not really going to work.

If you ever were to achieve the two it would a statistical fluke.

Does anyone know when Cameron's doing his speech on this?

Or the Third Way.

Ill answer my own question...the speech has already been delivered. Below is the link to the speech itself.


I think Cameron must be a bigot because he said nothing about getting more transgendered muslim candidates.

"So today I'm announcing my plans to give this Party what it voted for: more women in parliament."

Ah yes! The key issue of the leadership election...

Problems with this is who is going to be on these panels and secondly why should anyone every be a member of the party anymore?
If the 116mps think this is right they should be the first to be put up to the test. Anybody else supporters this?

Spot on chaps. Either you're seeking "the brightest and best candidates," or you're seeking "equal numbers of men and women and a significant proportion of black and ethnic minority candidates, and candidates with disabilities". You can't have both.

But what really sends shudders down the spine is the threat of "further action" being taken if the associations happen to choose candidates of the "wrong" background.

Our esteemed chairman Fraude was asked about this on the Today programme this morning, and wouldn't be drawn on whether it would be compulsory or not.

"I believe that the more you trust people, the more power and responsibility you give them, the stronger they and society become"

Indeed, halting local selection and telling them that an A-List of a set number of people are being handed to them to pick from...thats trust!

"You can't have both"

You'd be surprised by the number of people who can't grasp that fact, although one would have thought that Tories at least would be familiar with arguments against enforced equality of outcome.

Anyone remember Cheltenham in 1992? John Taylor was parachuted in from central office against the wishes of the local party.

A black Tory - a rare thing - but voters are clever enough to know when they're being conned.

I hope that the party is going to put true Conservative conviction at the top of the list of attributes required of those female candidates that are to be head-hunted. What we don't want is to end up with a wonderful diverse set of candidates who are more interested in a career in politics than having deep Conservative convictions.

Surely the way to go is to have primaries for all elections. This will ensure that only the best are selected to contest elections. The A List is a start but I would prefer a primary system.

True Derek, but I fear it could end up that way.

I think the only answer is for real conservatives to go queer, thus getting on the A-list!!

James M. I cannot get the link to work.

"James M. I cannot get the link to work."

It worked OK for me , Derek. (Though, having read the speech, I'm not sure I'd recommend following the link anyway!)

I'm hoping I'll get in under the disabilities section, I've obviously got a learning disability because I can't make sense of the inconsistencies in this policy.

Finally at last we have a leader who is trying to actually do something....

Well will Tories face up tot he facts..the party is all white and male and its been the local clubs at fault for this. Cameron has sovled the problem by making up an A list. Local candidates would have been better. But there was no way he could ensure equal numbers would get selected nevermind become MPs etc.

In the end, like it or loathe it...it will help us become a more modern and representative party.

I would like to nominate myself for the goldlist. I think I am the perfect candidate for it....After all I am young, talented, easy on eye, from a northern city, a strong Conservative, well educated in economics and politics. But hold on, I am a straight white male. Forget it then.

The moral of the story is that spending years or decades doing boring things for the Party - leafletting, canvassing, raising money, sitting on dreary committees, trying to help with mutual aid, trying to increase membership numbers and to keep existing members on board - really just means that you don't 'look like Britain' and hence don't deserve a Conservative seat, unlike someone who doesn't give a toss about the Conservative Party and its values and history but instead happens to have the right combination of skin-colour, sex and disability.

Am I the only one here who finds this appalling speech the most emetic mixture of racism, sexism, patronising political correctness, slimy metropolitan arrogance and 1984-type double-speak ever enunciated by any Conservative Party Leader ever?

Actually, it's not really been the fault of local associations, since the candidates who are submitted to them for interview are very largely white male and middle class.

This is (as far as I can tell) a bad idea, which will not assist the party.

I don't know about that Sean. I know of one constituency this year where most of the Tory members at the count spent the evening calling the Labour candidate a "fucking poofter" when (unbeknown to them) their candidate was gay also. He'd never have been selected if they'd have known.

All in all I like the idea of an A-List, however in the current design it is setting quotas, which we all know is a bad idea. How can we argue against quotas for police officers in the commons if we are ensuring we have x number of gay people and y number of women as candidates at all time. An A list would be great, if it wasn't discriminative (Positively or not) as it would give associations a clear list of suitable candidates.

No, Michael - you're not alone in finding this speech sickening. Considering that David Cameron has enjoyed the best education that money can buy, he seems to have a feeble grasp of logic.

Being asian myself, I can safely say that being a candidate for the Tory party has is a slim chance... Evenmore so if your gay or a women..

The idea is perfectly logical, you get put on the A-list because your good, and then you make it more representative of what it SHOULD be.

Its time for homophobic, eurosceptic, sexist, racist tories to give up... The country is not all white, men are not the only people who have "merit" to be candidates..and being gay is no reaosn to stop you at all. This discmininatin was not at the HQ level but at the assosication level.. By old right-wing members who seem to believe that having a male, straight, white candidate has a better chance than anyone else.

Good work by Cameron...We elected a leader that will change to win..and that what I think he will deliver.

The link does work. If it still doesnt work, just go to the Guardian website and go to the Politics section. You cant miss it.

The speech doesnt justify it socially constructing the set of candidates for the next election. Either we choose by merit or we choose by the characteristics that the candidates have. Following the latter course though does lead to some difficult choices being made and some controversial choices. Anyone know if this idea is against discrimination laws?

"Anyone remember Cheltenham in 1992? John Taylor was parachuted in from central office against the wishes of the local party.

A black Tory - a rare thing - but voters are clever enough to know when they're being conned."

What a preposterous statement. John Taylor was (and is) and a very able man. Any constituency should have been proud to have him as their MP. Anyone who wonders why we lost that seat should look at the literature the Liberals produced. That, together with the usual rump of publicity hungry bigots in the local association, did for him.

Under Cameron's new candidate selection rules he himself wouldn't get selected. Afterall aren't his rules designed to route out white, male, southern, straight, publicly educated people!

Perhaps we should have an 80% quota of state-educated candidates, and a 95% quota of non-Oxbridge candidates... ;)

What hapens if you're state educted and went to Oxbridge?

What happens if you're state educted and went to Oxbridge?

Obviously the way to beat this proposal is for local associations to select a local woman, gay or ethnic minority candidate NOT on the A list in preference to a fast tracked outsider.

If the associations had been more broadminded this proposal wouldn't have been necessary - but while I would in past have agreed with many comments above, the 2005 election changed my mind. After years of urging we still ended up with a woefully biased selection of MPs - which showed the inherent bias of local association selection committees towards the thirty something professional married man (DC included!).

Then you went one better than I did (interviewed and rejected) ;)

State educated Oxbridge sounds like A list material to me....

The A-list aside, the ideas Cameron has set out today should be welcomed. The party needs to change and widening the choice of candidates is a vital part of that process.

What is being suggested is building a more diverse list of potential candidates for local associations to choose from. And since we would be compiling a potential candidate list from a wider pool of people we should be able to raise the quality of the candidates we select as well.

Furthermore the proposed primary system should help ensure that candidates get selected on the basis of merit rather than discrimination of any kind.

That said the A-list is a silly idea. Every candidate not on that list would instantly be classed as "second rate" and, to be blunt, if we have second rate candidates on our list we should get rid of them entirely rather than drawing attention to their shortcomings.

I think we should have had regional lists. We could have achieved much of what is proposed by composing the regional lists carefully whilst clearly retaining a local connection and avoiding labelling of many of our candidates as'Z-listers'.

The implication of an 'A' list is that all other candidates are not 'A' list material and, presumably, not deemed suitable to represent the party in Parliament. I assume that it will become policy to recruit 'duffers' to make up the numbers in seats we cannot reasonably hope to win. Francis Maude will probably select these personally from amongst the 'fanatics' who attend party conferences.

"a 95% quota of non-Oxbridge candidates"

An anti-meritocracy...

"An anti-meritocracy..."

At least Simon Heffer would admit that we reflected the electorate...

I welcome what Cameron is trying to do. No one can argue with him seeking to get good quality candidates that, in overall, represent the diverse nature of Britain today.

The challange is to achieve this AND ensure that candidates are (broadly) local. (This is my very own version of the And Theory of Conservative Selection).

"I welcome what Cameron is trying to do. No one can argue with him seeking to get good quality candidates that, in overall, represent the diverse nature of Britain today."

Strange really, then, that Lord Archer hasn't been welcomed back into the fold with open arms to represent the criminal community!

I'm not sure the whether the above post is serious or not Richard! Do you really believe that the Alist will give us better quality candidates? I fear it will just give us well connected (with CCO)candidated who will therefore be compliant with whoever it was who compiled the Alist.I also believe that unless there is a local connection these people will lose us votes as their imposition will be exploited by our political enemies.

Sorry Malcolm - I should have added a 'smiley'. I have no time whatsoever for this A-list idea and was just driving down one of its many absurd cul-de-sacs.

I thought so Richard.But sometimes it's difficult to tell when reading a post whether the blogger is serious or not.We're agreed then.Good.

So the white, male, London based clique around Cameron now want to keep others like them out and create a nepotistic cushion to preserve their status.

If you are talented enough to go to a good university, get a good job, and move to London then beware. You're not wanted.

If you are a longstanding stalwart of a local Party beware. You can't be trusted.

Trust people and share responsibility my foot! More like seduce people you don't trust into giving you power then take all then responsibility.

It would be a very profound error to have fewer good LOCAL candidates.

Well, I was at the speech. It was superbly delivered. Sayeeda Warsi, who spoke before and after him, is bound to be high on the A-list, and that is no bad thing (on merit!).

Of course, the ideas are a load of crap when alls said and done. CCHQ needs to headhunt, arm twist, train and support to the hilt women candidates.

But imposing a two-tier candidate list is absurd. How would you, male of female, feel going into the House of Commons as an MP who was not on the approved list? Your career would be dead in the water right?

How would you, male of female, feel going into the House of Commons as an MP who was not on the approved list? Your career would be dead in the water right?

I don't know, if the a-list is for marginal and safe Conservative seats then you'd have had a good result to get there in the first place...

Extract from DCs speech:

My plan for positive action is based on clear principles. Guaranteeing more women and ethnic minorities are selected in winnable seats.

Ensuring that someone's potential to be a good MP is the only factor that counts in being selected as a parliamentary candidate. And preserving the autonomy that constituencies have to select the candidate that is best for them.

It only takes a little re-writing to realise how illogical and contradictory these remarks are:

We are going to guarantee that more women and ethnic minority candidates are selected in winnable seats, while at the same time ensuring that gender and ethnicity have no bearing on candidate selection, since the only criterion will be the candidate's potential to be a good MP. All candidates for winnable seats will have to be selected from a centrally-compiled 'A' list, but we will preserve the autonomy that constituencies have to select the candidate that is best for them.

The Conservative Party does not need positive discrimination to get more: ethnic, young, female, homosexual, Muslim or Jewish politicians.

As a party we have/had:

A female leader who became Prime Minister.

Two Jewish leaders, one a former senior member of the Cabinet, the other a former Prime Minister.

A Jewish Chairman of the Party and an ethnic minority vice-chairman.

At the last election we had more ethnic minority candidates than both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

In the Scottish Parliament we are lead by a women and have a further three female MSPs.

In Wales we have two female AMs, one of whom is the youngest politician in the country.

In Europe we have at least one Jewish MEP and two ethnic minority MEPs.

There are countless women and ethnic minority Peers gracing our benches in the House of Lords.

And up and down the country we have councillors of every age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, level of physical ability and wealth.

Having pointed aout the above I would like to say that non of it matters. As a Party we want talented candidates and that is all that matters, they could be purple with yellow spots, but as long as they are talented it doesn't matter. I thought the Conservative Party was a party that didn't believe in boxing people in.

There is no such thing as positive discrimination!!!

In this case, its negative discrimination against men but positive for women and ethnic minorities. Strictly speaking Wimmin...you are both right and wrong.

Discriminating by sex, race, age or any other characteristic like that is wrong and I urge the Party to stand up united and say it cannot be accepted.

The anonymous poster called "coxy". I've struggled over what to type as a reply to your postings. In the end prob think it best to remain reticent. Everything you've written, though, makes it clear why David Cameron is onto something about the need to change. Tim -- you would not believe what I've deleted from this posting.

The sheer hypocrisy staggers me: candidates are expected to jump through ever more hoops but Letwin thinks he can be a part timer!

We should run a poll on whether 100% effort is required from the front bench.

Letwin refuses to give up job in the City
(Filed: 12/12/2005)

Oliver Letwin refused to give up his lucrative City job yesterday after being promoted to the Tory front bench.

David Cameron's new policy chief said the post was "a full-time job".

But he said he would not quit as non-executive director of NM Rothschild. Mr Letwin gave up the City job - reportedly worth £300,000 a year - in 2003 when he was appointed shadow chancellor.

But he said it was different now because there was no conflict of interest between the jobs. "I think I will be able to manage," he said.

Speaking on BBC1's The Politics Show he added: "What I did when I was shadow chancellor I did because people said there was a conflict of interest. There isn't here in the same way."

He also said the City job was "a tiny little part" of his activities.

I think Letwin is right. Hes not Shadow Chancellor or Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary. Indeed he might have a few problems when looking at economic competitiveness. However, as long as the relevant people are there watching, and that he understands that the Conservative Parties interests come first, he should be OK. Its a conflict of interest if he uses his position to ensure that Rothchilds benefits specifically from his job there.

He is a non-executive director. As long as he makes sure it doesnt conflict with the interests of his primary job, chief of policy for the Conservatives, he's fine in my book. Nolan's Seven rules of Public Life 1994 allow this as long as there is internal rules to ensure standards. The person responsible for this I guess would be the Chairman...

Does anyone now have regrets about voting for Cameron?

Also, I'd be pretty pleased if Oliver Letwin spent *all* of his time devoted to his directorship.

Btw: what's the delay with the rest of the shadow team?

How many places left over? I thought a fair number had been picked with the "further updates" bit last week. I think the key posts have been picked so its not too bad. Theres been nothing on the Conservastives website.

I would make 3 points.

Firstly, there should be no need for an A List of "the brightest and the best" because if you are on the candidates list, you should be the brightest and best - anyone else has absolutely no place on it, whatever their gender/sexuality/ethnicity/disability etc.

Secondly, all the evidence is that candidates do better if (a) they are local; (b)they have fought the seat before and have built up a profile. An A List will not address this - selection will in practical terms be taken away from associations. If you are the 99th or 100th 'A List' designated association, there is no choice and they will simply get whoever is left, even if they are completely inappropriate. Also, in many seats there are really decent candidates who did a superb job last time - are they going to be chucked out if they don't conform to the Notting Hill way, because if not, I don't think they will split conveniently 50:50 male:female. It would be absurd to get rid of the fantastic Henry Smith from Crawley (reduced 11000 majority in 1997 to 37 over 2 elections) just because the 'quota' of male candidates has been filled.

Thirdly, I will only take people like Cameron, Maude and Jenkins seriously on this issue when they give up their safe seats for a woman MP. The reality is that none of them will. The case for requiring MPs to go through selection before every election with other candidates challenging them, has never been greater. Only then will you get more women into safer seats.

I completely agree with concerns about ANY shadow minister working part time. It makes the Party look like it is run by part-time amateurs circa 1950, and that it isn't capable of bearing the serious responsibility of governing.

On another matter, Derek Conway makes an interesting comment on the candidate selection reform package in today's Guardian:

"even recalcitrant, stuck in the mud old Tories like me know something has to be done. The truth is there probably isn't another way."


I think Matt you have hit the point on its head. We all know the very people who support this idea will never except that they themselves will have to go through it. I wonder why? I've got no problem with their being 646 black women MPs in the house of commons but then I wouldn't have a problem with 646 white male MPs either what we don't want is toothless MPs who stick to party whips rather than do their job which is to serve to there best ability their local area and country. The problem is in Plymouth Sutton we got someone as a MP who couldn't run a piss up in a brewery at the moment.

My biggest worry about devoting so much attention to this kind of thing is that we'll spend far too long simply changing the make-up of the party, and not enough on getting out and about in Britain, campaigning hard so that we can change the country.

If we freeze the selection process until a new system is put in place, how long will it be until we actually get some candidates selected, particularly in those marginal seats where we need to be campaigning hard, day-in, day-out for the years to come. If we want to change the party, whether that's its clothes or the real body beneath, then let's get that done as soon as possible so that we can have candidates in place and they can get campaigning very soon.

"My biggest worry about devoting so much attention to this kind of thing is that we'll spend far too long simply changing the make-up of the party"

It doesn't change the make up of the party though, does it. It changes the make up of the approved candidates list, in the hope that a few more women dotted around will somehow cause a mass outbreak of Conservatism.

I'm a bit of sceptic on that.

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