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This is welcome news and is testimony to the well chosen words of Francis Maude on ToryRadio last week when he said that CCHQ would be "agreeable" to associations that feel they have an extraordinary reason to look outside the priority list.

Agent's, Association Chair people and others closely involved with the selection and election of Conservative Candidates realise that unity is a prerequisite to electoral success.

I'm a little sceptical of this. When MORE4 phone up our Association our Chairman tells them to piss off.

They always phone back the next time though.

Did they really manage to speak to 50 Association Chairmen? They tend to have day jobs and don't answer media surveys.

I trust More4 News, Zhukov.

Association Chairmen are also more supportive (publicly) of the leadership than the activists at large. I remember just before the fall of IDS, a similar survey of Chairmen found quite a large majority supported him.

Im suprized at that. I know Im not the only one in my constituency who doesnt agree with the A-List. The poll reflects public support, not private views. Privately they may hate it but for the public gaze, they may not wish to irk the leadership...

James, I've yet to come across a single activist in either of the two constituencies I'm involved with who thinks the A List is a good idea.

"I'm a little sceptical of this. When MORE4 phone up our Association our Chairman tells them to piss off."

My gut instinct is that the type of association chairman who tells More 4 to piss off is the same type of association chairman who is likely to tell CCO to piss off when they come a-knocking with an A-list of candidates to chose from...

Anthony - More4 have rung Associations a number of times since Cameron came in looking for divisions and asking loaded questions.

That's why Chairman got annoyed!

I would be interested in which associations replied to this survey. What was the North/South balance for instance?

If the South Northamptonshire example is representative of the future and provided the shortlisting and final selection is conducted fairly, then I don't think we need to worry too much. Commonsense and pragmatism might well be prevailing, afterall we need to concentrate our efforts on fighting our external political opponents.

As has been posted above Association Chairman have generally in the past been very loyal to the leadership.It will be interesting to see whether this will be maintained when they and their Excecutive commitee are forced to interview candidates they may not deem suitable.
I'm with you 'though Tim and am still hopeful that with a bit of flexibility (as has already been demonstrated in Bromley) a way through can be found that keeps most people happy.

The Taxpayers Alliance has just sent round an email that includes the following quote... Con Home people may find it interesting.

Quote from the TPA follows:



The role of the TPA is becoming more important. The TPA exists because none of the political parties are making - or are trying to make, or know how to try to make - a high-profile, effective case for lower taxes, less government waste, and the removal of politicians from the management of public services - services that politicians can never manage competently. As we have been making clear, we want to create a political movement that changes the political climate in Britain - creating a low-tax orthodoxy with massively reduced power for Westminster politicians - which politicians from all parties have to accommodate.

Many politicians and political commentators in Westminster have concluded that "you can't sell lower taxes" because people want to pay more for better public services. The scale of this belief is extraordinary, even from people who had previously been keen advocates for lower taxes. But most of the people that say there's no hope have spent no real time looking at the polls and rely heavily on spin from a handful of advisers, MPs and journalists - the same people that were telling them that the polls showed something different less than a year ago.

The idea that "you can't sell lower taxes" is wrong. That claim suggests that the low-tax campaigns run by politicians over the last few years have been absolutely spot-on and perfectly executed. Clearly that isn't the case - for the most part they have been wrongly focused, badly delivered and clearly opportunist by being thrown into a manifesto at the last minute. What we have "learned" is that bad campaigns fail - but that should not come as any great surprise to anyone.

The TPA has spent a great deal of time studying the polls and some of the people now running the TPA fought and won a referendum against the Government on an explicity low-tax message. This was, of course, the referendum on the Regional Assembly in the North East in Autumn '04, where North East Says No's top message was "VOTE NO TO HIGHER TAXES", summarised by the campaign's slogan "POLITICIANS TALK, WE PAY". Predictably, the lessons from this campaign have been completely ignored by almost everyone in Westminster (although it seems that some MPs like Alan Milburn did learn from it).

The fact is that a low tax campaign (not just from a campaigning organisation like the TPA) can work in Britain. But at its core there needs to be essentially an "anti-politician" message. It means actively using the anti-politician mood in this country to show that the tax ordinary people pay - and which makes their everyday lives more difficult - is wasted by politicians through unneccessary spending, and on centrally-managed public services that they can never run effectively. The comical incompetence of our "Rolls Royce" civil service and politicians over the last few weeks will obviously continue and can be used to say: "it's time for a change".

Many seem unwilling to use this anti-politician / anti-establishment message. In the US, no such concern exists, and campaigns and politicians use this all the time (eg Reagan '80, Clinton '92, Bush 2000, and no doubt McCain, Allen etc in '08). Also, most people in British politics ignore the intellectual debate taking place in the US over how the future of policing, public service provision, even national security etc, is increasingly going to be run by much smaller, local networks.

However, it appears that whilst the TPA will be pushing this message increasingly and more aggressively over the course of the rest of the year, and whilst it appears that more and more in the media will be tapping into this theme, we will continue just to hear "we can be better managers" of second-rate services from most of the political class.

The truth is that the massive incompetence now covered in the media has been a permanent feature of the British state for years and arguably, other than the Thatcher years, for decades. Cameron's Conservatives or Brown's (?) Labour Party may win an election by promising to be "better managers" but what will inevitably follow is more of the same failures because of the sheer scale of the structural problems. The UK needs a group of politicians to realise that they should be leading the debate on systemic change involving radical decentralisation and bringing management experience from the commercial and military worlds etc into central government. They should tap into the contempt for politicians and the current political process. Not only would this hold out hope for hugely improved standards but it is an open goal for those who wish to capture and secure power for a generation.

The TPA will be helping those politicians that grasp this agenda.

I'm interested that these are the chairmen of 50 marginal constituencies, ie 'target seats'. If the same survey was carried out across the 'safe seats', there would not be anywhere near a majority support for the A List, or selection by ethnicity/gender/sexuality/disability/religion.

The results do seem surprising on the face of it, though it is true to say that when chairmen are put on the spot they may not wish to rock the boat, particularly as we seem to be doing well at the moment. Fifty is rather a small sample.

As far as I understand a local councillor on the approved list will be allowed an interview by CCHQ.

A local councillor?

Great, we're saved then! Some of these are awful, and some local non-councillors would make excellent MPs.

What's this generous concession worth?

"The fifty chairmen represent Tory activists in over half of the party's top eighty target seats."

It's a shame that this wouldn't extend to my favourite local association chairman from north London - as an ultra-loyalist, I'm sure he would have given the priority list roaring approval.

(Assuming he isn't too busy fundraising for Help the Aged that is - I'm assured that the welfare of the elderly is a long-standing concern of his!)

I am amazed at this poll finding. It looks like a self fulfilling prophesy to base a programme idea on. Regarding South Northamptonshire, Stephen Dorell, who came to represent CCO, was left in no doubt of our intention to do our own thing in our own way.

The post from (Anon) about the Tax Payers Alliance is interesting. Their message has wide support and how long before they start fielding candidates in local elections ??

I ask again the question which I have asked before and which has as yet remained unanswered:

What is the legal status of the A list ?

As I understand it local Cons Assocs are required to choose PPCs from the already existing Approved List of Parliamentary Candidates. Fair enough - there has to be some control to stop nutcases or whatever standing under the Conservative Party label.

But what, if any, is the mechanism whereby the marginal or 'safe' Cons Assocs can be required to select not just from the wider Approved List , but from the narrower 'A' List ??

If there is no such mechanism - as I suspect - then its creation is testimony to one of the things that some of us object to about this List - not its existence or the idea of an A list as such, but the nature of some of the people who have been included in it - namely people with little or nothing to recommend them as MPs - people who provide no evidence of intelligence and who have little experience of life or work in a difficult job but instead have plenty of experience in University and Central Office / Party HQ politics, plus sucking up to the present High Command. And even some people who lack even the latter but look good [allegedly] sitting naked in oversized jamjars. Just the sort of people the general public despise as MPs and esp as Ministers.

If the setting up of the A list has in fact no mechanism for its own enforcement then whilst that is a pleasing irony it also demonstrates the lack of ability / intelligence of people like Maude [does he realize how absolutely unconvincing he looks in his ridiculous tieless M and S sweater look?? ] and his cronies.

I completely agree geraldine - The M and S look is so old. I shop at Peacocks. Very cheap, good quality clothes.

One bit of news appearing in our local rag (Kent on Sunday) has a frontpage article saying Adam Rickett is looking to stand for Folkestone and Hythe.

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