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London's always been the place where a primary would have most effect so I think its great news.

CCHQ should be prepared to pay the cost of the election though, otherwise someone could just buy their way in.

Its a step forward, regardless of the timetable. This is just the way to get people involved.

As for the cash, could we not find a suitable candidate and do a Howard Dean (not including the scream or the final result obviously).

The idea of primaries is really really good.

BUT the timetable looks designed to help Francis Maude's personal favourites, who we can be quite sure will have been well primed. We're talking, of course, about Nicholas Boles and Margot James. No-one who hasn't been pre-warned to be ready could possibly organise themselves in time for this.

As usual, the New Party is taking agood idea and mucking it up by doing it in a rushed and improper fashion. Why can't they get things right?

Definately welcome the idea of primaries, any ideas of any strong candidates? My knowledge of London is very limited at best.

On the surface, this is something I broadly welcome, however I do have some reservations.

Firstly, these primaries will not be 'open', but will be restricted to those who register as Conservative supporters - I would prefer a real 'open' primary with Conservative members being entitled to vote with no charge and non-members being charged a small fee, which I believe would involve greater engagement with the wider electorate and allow us to raise money to cover the costs of the process.

Secondly, the eight weeks from now until the end of May is not long enough to enable many potential candidates to mobilise their campaigns, gather sufficient support and arrange sufficient funding for the whole mayoral contest (particularly if it's true that candidates will have to be self-funding in the battle with Livingstone) - effectively limiting the contest to the wealthy and/or those who are already well-connected with the Tory establishment.

Thirdly, I'm feeling considerable disquiet about the fact that this plan has been leaked before it has been approved by the Party Board, who will now surely feel pressured into backing it to avoid being accused of disloyalty etc...

Finally, if the party is prepared to embrace this democratisation of the candidate selection process for the London mayoral contest, why are the powers-that-be continuing to insist on imposing their priority list on Westminster target seats - this sort of inconsistency does not bode well.

Lord Coe would be our best hope.

I agree entirely with DVA. All four points are bang-on.

This is something potentially so good, so fresh, so positive for the party, that to do it half-cock would be an absurd waste.

Come on Francis, try doing it properly this time! Let's not have another botched-up effort, just to help your preferred candidates!

Richard - 12:26

Totally agree, Lord Coe would be a great choice. Perhaps ConservativeHome could run a poll...

Primaries will be a great way of giving our chosen candidate publicity + very necessary given how much money Livingstone will spend on his own campaign, eg his "London newspaper" that gets sent round saying how brilliant he is. I look forward to voting for the candidate who most wants to abolish the position.

So what if there's an 'open primary'? Who can vote isn't the issue: who can stand is. Will the candidates who can put their names forward for the nomination be restricted to only those whom Maude & CCHQ sign off on? Let's have some answers please.

As a member of the Party in London, is my voice going to carry as much weight (or as little weight) as non-Party members in the selection of our candidate? If so, why join the Party at all?

I have a strong mistrust of open primaries due to the opportunities other parties or groups have of skewing the result. I dont like this decision by CCHQ. It should be a closed primary.

Nicholas Slide: "Perhaps ConservativeHome could run a poll..."

We will, Nicholas, we will!

"We're talking, of course, about Nicholas Boles and Margot James"

Here's a radical idea. How about someone who has some skills as a potential Mayor? My vote goes to Steve Norris.

Editor: it would be helpful to have a Platform piece (or a link to an old item) to explain why ConservativeHome has long been a supporter of open primary elections. I can see the merits of letting all Party members have a vote. But an open primary would just seem to invite all the supporters of other parties to vote for the candidate they thought would do worst in the actual election. And if anyone could put themselves forward as a candidate, we could wind up with a LibDem (or whatever) as the Conservative candidate. What safeguards would you see?

Rob G:

The discussion after this post by Dan Hannan MEP might be interesting to you.

Within the left margin there are also a number of relevant links under the 'An open, democratic and decentralised Conservatism' heading.

Hope this helps.

Agree totally with those above that Lord Coe would be the best hope for a Conservative win.
I find him one of the most impressive public figures in the country today who has really grown in statue in recent years.
He would make Livingstone look like the tied old as been he as become.

Coe can't stand, he's not on the List. At the moment Maude is saying that only those candidates he approves of will be able to stand. So look out for an exciting Boles versus Norris contest! (And 4 more years of Red Ken).

"Agree totally with those above that Lord Coe would be the best hope for a Conservative win. I find him one of the most impressive public
figures in the country today who has really grown in statue in recent
years. He would make Livingstone look like the tied old as been he as

It's not about appearances, it's about ability to fix crime and
transport in London. There's only one candidate mentioned here with
stature ande who is equal to that task, and that is Steve Norris.

The key point here is that on a day in which Mr Cameron is talking to Mr Blair about State Funding of political parties, Conservative Central Office appear to be rushing through a voting system to select the Mayoral Candidate, which will only attract the rich or friends of the ch. Central Office's requirement is that the Candidate will have to bear the cost of the campaign (between £1-2 million). This should not be a prerequisite. The intention should be to attract the best and brightest from all walks of life rather than from a narrow clique of wealthyMetropolitans.

Surely Seb Coe wouldn't be able to stand as he has to organise the Olympics?

If he could do both then he'd be a great candidate but I can't see it.

To get round the issue of party member's having no more say than anyone else couldn't there be an initial vote amongst London party members with the final two going into a truly Open Primary? Candidates for the first round could throw their hat into the ring by conference time and then have the second vote early next year.

Also, so far as funding goes shouldn't the party have a London Mayor fund and whoever wins gets the money for their campaign or do we only want rich lawyers and businessmen to be candidates? We should win the mayordom next time round and this approach will be a great way to reconnect with London voters.

I really like this idea of an open primary, as it would give "ownership" of the candidate to everyone in London but I am a bit concerned about the amount of money candidates could spend in the primary as it could freeze out a lot of good candidates.

Amongst all of those whose names have been floated around, I reckon Syed Kamall would be a great candidate. He has been a really great friend to my Association and more crucially, I think he would be able to reach out to the "traditional" supporters of the Party as well as making good headway into communities that we have not historically performed so well in. What better way could the Party prove it was changing than by putting up a moderate Muslim that can connect with everyone in London, rich and poor?

Forget the possibility of Coe. He'd be great but he is now committed to the Olympics.

"But an open primary would just seem to invite all the supporters of other parties to vote for the candidate they thought would do worst in the actual election."

In theory yes, but empirically (from the US) this simply doesn't happen, because, particularly in elections concerned with executive positions such as mayors, governors and the President, the primary system simply encourages trans-partisanship. The idea that people would waste their time skewing a primary system is a figment of partisan imagination I'm afraid.

"But an open primary would just seem to invite all the supporters of other parties to vote for the candidate they thought would do worst in the actual election."

This is why a small charge for non-members would be useful - apart from serving to raise money, it would also act as a disincentive to the type of interference you describe.

When a candidate is chosen for Mayor I just hope it isn't someone like Boy King Cameron, this useless specimen who's taking a once great party further and further down the path to obscurity with his wishy washy policies.

I say forget the Mayor for now and find a proper candidate to lead the Tories, because they'll go nowhere while Cameron is at the helm.

The Mayor's office told me earlier this year how much the Londoner cost. In the current financial year the budget for the Londoner was £2,882,800. Next year the budget is slightly reduced at £2,857,488.

£3 million of self puffery is pretty eye watering but that is no the whole story.

This figure does not include all of the so-called advertising revenue that the Londoner gets from forcing all the parts of the Mayor’s empire to use the Londoner for advertising.

The latest issue comprised 20 pages. There was absolutely no display advertising from any non-GLA body. There were four and a half pages of display ads from captive GLA customers such as TfL, LDA and the Met.

The real gross spending is likely to be more like £4 million. In addition Transport for London has massive advertising budgets that keep on telling Londoners how great their buses are.

It will be hard to kick Livingstone out however many stupid comments he keeps making.

If it really will be an open primary, open in terms of candidates and voted in by a cross-section of the community, then it is a great idea.

As DVA notes, an open primary for mayor will just make the a-list look even more out-of-date and prejudiced.

The only restriction to candidacy should be membership of the party. If any more restrictions are placed on the candidate list then it will just be presentational fudge.

Syed Kamall fans can watch him in action :

The person organising the Olympics SHOULD be the Mayor of London- it will get things done quicker in the interests of BOTH posts.

Are there any Tory Londoners out there thinking about a "Draft Seb" campaign?

A good test of how a primary will work in a dense urban area. Hopefully pointing the way to how we select candidates in cities where organisation is weak, such as Manchester. Let's also look at open primaries in local government selections, where turnout is even lower.

Coe would be a disaster, apart from which he would exemplify conflict of interest, and he has greater ambitions on the international olympic level.

His most recent laudable pursuit was the dreadful olympic logo - nuff said.

And if anyone cares to look there is a buttock-clenching, humoungously cheesy interview on the government/olympic website, between him and Tony Blair which sounds as though it was scripted by Play School.

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