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Don't women care about things like the economy, immigration, or Iraq?

I'd have to say that the performance of New Labour in government is hardly the strongest argument in favour of reverse discrimination in candidate selection.

Sean! Of course they do. But we multi task. We also think of things like welfare, womens rights, children, environment....... Its the and theory.

What a patronising comment (typical of the smug Sieghart) to assume that men are not interested in issues such as public services, children and the environment.

Sean, while it was good to see Labour getting a bloody nose last week, you are right that Cameron's candidate cloning exercise is unlikely to have much positive impact. Last Thursday, the Tories didn't do much better than in 2004 against an obviously exhausted and fractious Labour Government. Moreover, they made minimal inroads in cities north of Watford Gap where, as David Davis understands better than Cameron, people are not interested in the image politics of those who live on the set of Love Actually.

I find this subject rather boring and haven't been following the detail and perhaps I've missed something. But one point struck me as odd.

If the Priority List contains the candidates whom constituencies are asked to select in priority to others, then how do the constituencies know who the Priority List candidates are if the Priority List isn't published?

This may make you sit up and consider the value of women candidates...
In Wandsworth, out of 20 3-member wards, we won 16 outright. There were no women standing in three wards. Of the 13 wards where women stood, they topped the vote in 10, ahead of their male rivals.
Interestingly, in the two wards where Labour won all three seats, their men beat their women candidates.
In one split ward, the Conservative woman topped the poll ahead of two Labour men.

The Times' columnist noted how the Labour Party’s increased number of women MPs agitated “for the party to pay more attention to the issues that female voters really cared about: public services, childcare, work-life balance”. There may or may not be ideological implications of more female Tory MPs but there must be a strong likelihood of more interest in the issues identified by Ms Sieghart.

I presume this is why there have been so useless in doing what MPs are supposed to dao and holding the executive to account? God save us from the Tory benches being packed with compliant Cameron cuties just seeking a leg up for favours rather than merit. After all isn't that the lesson they'll learn from how they entered Parliment - it's not what you do but who you know.

Good point William.Or are in certain constituencies the local associations forced to choose candidates ONLY from the priority list?

over half will be women

Fantastic. But what happens if the number of best candidates who are women then goes on to naturally grow to, say 95%? Will Cameron have to start 'negatively discriminating' against women?

What if a disabled MP dies? Will Cameron have to field an all-disabled candidate list to avoid a backlash from a disabled lobby for reducing the proportion of disabled elected representatives?

SSSgggk. FFlgflg. Hhkhkhkhk. Golobobob. Spit.

Apologies. Positive discrimination leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

How will they be topped up I wonder. Will those not in the initial hundred be told that they were ranked say 120th?

William & Malcolm,

The way that the system will work is apparently much the same as already happens. When a constituency selects its candidate, all those on the candidates list receive an e-mail from CCHQ inviting them to apply. It's then up to individuals to decide whether to apply or not.

So far as I gather, the same will work now, except that it will only be those on the priority list who receive an invitation to apply to the seats that will be selecting candidates over the next few months.

"So far as I gather, the same will work now, except that it will only be those on the priority list who receive an invitation to apply to the seats that will be selecting candidates over the next few months."

But that's a direct contradiction of assurances given by Bernard Jenkin (the Grand High Poobah of candidate selection) to Conservative Home earlier this year.

This what DC has just said at what will be a series of regular 'Leader of the Opposition' press conferences:

"Over the past few months we have been interviewing those people who want to get on to our Priority List. Conservative-held constituencies and target seats will be expected to select from this list. I’ve said many times that we need to have more women candidates and more candidates from black and minority ethnic communities. Our aim is that the list will be representative of Britain. On the current list, just over half are women, and just over 10% are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. It is my aspiration to keep it that way. The process of selecting the candidates who will be on the first tranche of the Priority List is now complete. Tomorrow, we will send out letters notifying those who are on it. By the end of July, about 50 constituencies – some safe seats, others marginal – will have selected their candidates for the next General Election. The priority list will be topped up as people are selected for those seats. So it is an ongoing process. But as I have said, we will stop, look and review the situation after the first tranche. If we have not made enough progress, further steps will be taken."

How will they be topped up I wonder. Will those not in the initial hundred be told that they were ranked say 120th?

Be positive Jonathan! Think like a winner. :-)

Perhaps they will give an original position then the positive-action adjustment level. Now that would cause fireworks.

Thats interesting. therefore if associations still choose men - more men can get on the A list - but "further action" will be taken - as the party doesnt want more men to be chosen. If Associations choose more women - the A list will be topped up by women - and exclude any further men from getting on.

I refer you to the following comments attributed to Bernard Jenkin in December (not quite 'earlier this year', but I was close enough):

"The autonomy of constituency associations to select their preferred candidate remains a fundamental principle..."

"It remains my job to ensure that every Conservative Association is content with the choice of prospective candidates I offer them..."

and perhaps the clincher:

"Moreover, Constituencies will always be encouraged to interview a strong local candidate, whether or not he or she is on the Priority List."

After the result we got in Bassetlaw Im feeling very much a winner Chad.

Unfortunately I will be in Paris on Wednesday - a late birthday treat - so I will have to wait until my return Thursday.

I resigned from the party today. I had previously withdrawn from going forward to a candidates' selection weekend.

The constant message I was receiving from all sides was that my case for being a candidate/on the priority list would not be considered fairly. I suffer from being white, male, and oxbridge educated.

If in the past people of my description had received favourable treatment then surely the people to penalise is those people, not people like me who had received no advantage from any such bias.

On this basis surely the most appropriate route forwards is for Ainsworth, Cameron, Duncan, Grayling, Hague, Hammond, Heald, Letwin, Liddington, Maude, Mitchelln Osborne and Willets (and if simply being white and Oxbridge is a crime, then add in May and Villiers) to resign in apology for unfairly being promoted.

I and friends believe in a level playing field and that is all we ask for. A friend who happens to be female and asian is not going forwards because she wants to be considered on her merits.

Cameron stated:
Our aim is that the list will be representative of Britain.

Cool. So there will be a good proportion of candidates who support EU withdrawal, tax on aviation fuel,grammar schools etc etc.

Oh, I see, only representative in terms of how they look not how they think.

I've spoken to 4 people who applied for the A list interviews, all of whom regarded the interview as a joke from which it would be impossible to tell whether they were A list potential or not..

Party members and local branches should ignore this unmeritocratic and centrally dictated list and select on their own far more sensible criteria.

Daniel,

I should have mentioned local candidates - apparently local candidates will be able to apply as well. I am not sure what definition is given to "local". People will presumably know when their own association is selecting, but they might not know about other nearby seats. It's also possible that people might have a strong local profile in the place where they work, not where they live.

Perhaps Bernard Jenkin might give some more detail on this if he agrees to answer another batch of questions. Over to you Editor.

My last post lost its end -

"I cannot be a member of a party which does not believe in a level playing field and neither can she".

Sorry.

Newly ex-party member's post is a timely reminder that this whole pantomime consists of "establishment" insiders (including my MP) shoring up their own vested interests while giving a two-fingered salute to those who cannot fit into a politically-correct straitjacket. Does anyone with an ounce of self-esteem and belief in meritocracy want to be an MP in such a party?

How ironic that this is all happening on the day when Peter Vain has apologised to the electors of Blaenau Gwent for Labour's crude imposition on them last year of an all-women shortlist.

Michael,

You've got it in one.

I felt very guilty about resigning. My local Agent went into meltdown when I rang to tell her.

What is worse is that I still believe in what I consider to be broadly Conservative principles. I still support my local MP and Association. I will still be voting Conservative.

However I cannot be a member of a party that appears to hate me because I am similar to those at the top.

So according to Simon C, the only advantage for 'A' list candidates is that they are notified when a constituency is preparing to elect a candidate. Does this mean that the constituency party is unaware that they are on the 'A' list and thus have been approved by CCHQ ? If so, it doesn't sound much of an advantage. Anyone who misses the 'A' list would still have a perfectly good chance of being selected as long as they can find out which Associations are selecting. Is there an easy way for them to find this out ? Is this something CH could help with ?

I suffer from being white, male, and oxbridge educated.
You'd still be in with a shout if you have a limp.

No limp, heterosexual, public school educated, work in city, all faculties and limbs.

I'm doomed!

I think there is far too much of a fuss going on here. The same practice, positive discrimination also occurs in major companies in the UK across all sectors. It does not seem to have resulted in many of these firms going backwards and falling by the wayside.

Those who are talented enough will still reach the top, all this does is remove middle ranking male candidates who are not quite good enough. It should also not be forgotten that studies have shown that female candidates do better than male candidates in terms of winning votes. So if we wish to get back in power to implement a Tory agenda then we should seek to maximise our chances in whatever way we can and if selecting female candidates gives us a greater opportunity to win over swing voters then I am all for it.

Conservatism is not about rabid ideology but pragmatism and pragmatism dictates that we are in opposition and need to do as much as we can to maximise our prospects of winning because in our system you can do nothing without power.

Finally let us bear in mind that those who miss out are not being denied the opportunity to serve the party. Indeed many might find more power and status through serving as councillors and becoming leader of the council than as a backbench MP. We are only denying people an opportunity to pursue one aspect of an interest in politics not a career as such.

If this happened in a company you could sue them for blatant discimination actually Andrew.

I have worked in several very large companies and have NEVER seen positive discrimination.

They have all acted "background blind" and promoted the best people regardless. That is how they generated double digit increases in profits year on year.

Positive discrimination doesn't always result in positive results - see Wales!

"The same practice, positive discrimination also occurs in major companies in the UK across all sectors."

If that is the case, then it isn't overt positive discrimination (unlike the Priority List) as that is strictly illegal, with the exception of political parties.

positive discrimination also occurs in major companies in the UK across all sectors

Well they are breaking the law if that is the case. Do you have any information about these companies to back this up?

In our place, CV's are delivered without any identifying info about name, sex etc before shortlists are creates.

Positive Discrimination will backfire.

Perhaps I am a little bit biased, but obivously my advice would be to resign and stand for Imagine, as I will not tolerate any form of positive discrimination.

Peter Law showed how even a 19,000 majority can be wiped out when a community gets annoyed at certain type of candidate (rather than just the best one) before forced upon them.

See the Campaign for Conservative Democracy website for more on candidate selection, including a report from a candidate who has been dropped in spite of achieving a good result at the last general election. Where is the sense of fairness?

JohnC,

When people on the candidates/priority candidates list receive the e-mail notification from CCHQ and then decide to apply to a particular seat, they then send their CV (in fact an application form) applying for that seat to CCHHQ. CCHQ then passes the applicants' CVs to the Association in question.

The Association would know which candidates were on the priority list, because it would receive their applications via CCHQ. If it received an application direct from a candidate, that candidate would not be on the priority list.

***

In case there's any doubt, I am a simple member of the candidates' list trying to explain how the system will operate so far as I understand it. I am not an apologist for the priority list. If you want some more detailed comments, it may be that someone from the Candidates's Dept, or Bernard Jenkin, can help.

Sorry I was not talking about what happened once people got into a company but merely the interview process. My point was that positive discrimination does take place in determining who is invited to interview to a degree and to a lesser degree who is offered a job.

Again Andrew - where? As its illegal.

Whenever I have applied for a job the message has always been "the best will get it".

This is not the message that is spread by leading spokesmen on a daily basis.

Today for example Osborne is quoted as saying "I want people of different backgrounds into the party; I want more women in Parliament."

And then from Cameron's briefing above he says "Our aim is that the list will be representative of Britain". My points would be (a) the average IQ of the British population is 100 - do we want MPs with an average IQ of 100? and (b) this is not an appeal to recruit the best - simply a mix - if anything eschewing the best.

Sorry I was not talking about what happened once people got into a company but merely the interview process

No, I was addressing exactly that. Potential employees are shortlisted without knowledge of their race, sex etc.

I agree, as far as I understand the action you mention is illegal. Which company?

I think the party is in a bot of a bind with this whole selection thing. I wish we had more open primaries as part of the selection process. I also think the idea that the priority list will stay 'secret' is fantastic (in the sense of being a fantasy).

Quite what the solution is I'm not sure because the party certianly needs a broader range of lifestyles and backgrounds to be represented in the parliamentary party.

Tim

You've fallen for the usual mis-conception. Cameron is installing a PLAY-list to an A-list. On Wednesday, CCHQ will be sending out a list of songs that candidates should have on their i-pods. The Play-List will contain all of Dave's favourite trendy tunes, plus a few Tory classics. The list will be over 50% female artists and over 10% 'ethnic' music. The music will be updated twice a year (June and December) to ensure it remains up to date and cutting edge.

Simon C,

Thanks for explaining this.

I still think it would be very helpful if CH could post details of constituencies which are preparing to select candidates. There will be many able people out there who miss the priority list, and they should have every chance of competing. CCHQ cannot force any constituency association to select anyone.

Quite what the solution is I'm not sure because the party certianly needs a broader range of lifestyles and backgrounds to be represented in the parliamentary party

No the party needs to simply do what it has promised in Built To Last:
"social justice and equal opportunity are achieved by empowering people and communities – instead of thinking that only the state can guarantee fairness.
"

Give the communities (or at the very least the party members in that constituency) a democratic choice of candidates to pick from.

Sure, let CCHQ add a couple of their a-list favourites into the list of potential candidates, but then let the people themselves choose the right person to fight their seat. This should include sitting MP's too to prevent the hatstand in a blue rosette situation etc.

"On Wednesday, CCHQ will be sending out a list of songs that candidates should have on their i-pods."

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox?

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox?

Well we know that "Its Raining Men" is unlikely to be featured.

Or Abba's Gimme Gimme Gimme A Man On Election Night for that matter...


I'm not aware of any study which demonstrates that women candidates to better on average, Andrew, than men candidates.

In this case, at least 60% of women who have applied for the A List will receive a place, and at least 80% of men who have applied will be denied a place. I would have thought the implications, in terms of candidate quality, would be obvious.

Imagine if we awarded university degrees on such a basis.

Andrew M's post leaves me bemused. I am not championing the cause of mediocre middle class men (hence my less-than-flattering comments about many Tory MPs). However, I don't regard mediocre middle class women (or anybody else for that matter) as an acceptable substitute. There is nothing positive about positive discrimination. It is discrimination pure and simple. The obvious fair solution is open primaries. It also seems to be effective in generating support. Cameron and Maude don't really want these because, like Blair, they want greater control from the centre.

I also fail to understand Andrew M's reference to "rabid ideology". There is nothing rabidly ideological about supporting meritocracy. It is a simple question of justice. As for the Conservative Party's much-vaunted "pragmatism", the fact that it is a content-free zone has a lot to do with why it has provided such feeble opposition for over a decade.

One strange argument which has enjoyed an airing in these columns is that because the Tory Party has discriminated against women in the past, then it must discriminate against men in the future. This really is an argument born of desperation. Applying this logic, the "solution" to 5 years of Nazi occupation of Poland was to replace it with Stalinism.

During my interview i was asked if I had voted for David Cameron in the leadership election. Surley this was inappropriate?

"Imagine if we awarded university degrees on such a basis."

Or driving licences! ;-)

What worries me about this is the presumption that people will vote for a candidate because they have a blue rosette.

I think the rise of the Lib-Dems shows the limits of this approach. They field "local candidates for local people" and accuse their opponents of being ideologically-pure strangers who know nothing of local issues and care less. And it works; look what happened in Blaenau Gwent and Dunfermline.

This policy should be good for target marginals where the candidate could have several years to become known to the electorate, but in some 'safe' seats the incumbent can be more popular than the party and there must be a risk to adopting 'strangers'. On current poll predictions we would have only a small majority and I feel we can't afford to take chances with the seats we already have.

......."During my interview i was asked if I had voted for David Cameron in the leadership election. Surley this was inappropriate?"...........

I was asked the same question - I said I had supported DD and was then told that they were surprised I was applying for the A list if I didn't support Cameron!! I felt like a purge on non-bel;eivers was being carried out - except in this case it's a purge of beleivers ... in conservatism - you know - low tax, grammer schools, economic growth, jobs not trees, etc

That's two people who were asked who they ha supported on this site plus the firned of mine who was asked the same thing.

Editor - please cna we have a poll of how people who were interviewed felt the process was run:
a) were they asked if they supported cameron
b) did they feel they had a fair hearing?
c) did the person doing the interview listen?


If people were asked questions of that sort, then it was highly inappropriate.

However, if people were asked such questions, then it would be better if they were to contact the Editor directly, who can guarantee their anonymity, rather than posting on a public forum.

The problem is, the rest of us have no way of knowing whether people posting anonymously are genuine or not (and obviously people can't be expected to post such information under their real names).

It's all about selecting apparatchiks who will trot out the cliches of the Dear Leader. Presumably at this year's Tory Party conference, Cameron's aides will be marking the cards of those who sit down first during the standing ovation for his speech?

Response to SYK's questions...

a. Was not asked whether I supported Cameron.
b. Received a fair hearing, but questions were unfocused.
c. Hard to tell... presumably will find out on Wednesday.

Give the communities (or at the very least the party members in that constituency) a democratic choice of candidates to pick from.

Chad, I don't disagree, that's why I think the party is in a bind over candidate selection because it seems too scared to trust the local population.

We do need a broader range of people in the parliamentary party and I'm confident open primaries and open minds would deliver that.

The priority list has been done the wrong way round. It should have gone from the ground up, not been imposed by the centre.

In areas where the party is very weak a good local candidate who wants to act as a rallying point and build up the party at local level should be preferred over anyone else

On the positive discrimination front -
certainly in the bank I worked at there were all sorts of 'Women in Management' schemes and there was often an assumption that if two people were equally good then sex and race would be used to help meet self-imposed equality and diversity targets. AndrewM is just pointing out it goes on. Racism is illegal too and that happens as well.


Sean - normally I find you comments spot on ... but on this you're way off!

Surely the only way to expose electoral rigging, if that is what has been going on ... if for all reposts to be made public. That way we can judge for ourselves if there has been a co-ordinated factional putsch.

Victoria - I take from your name that you are not a man. I suspect your interview may have had a very slant than others!

Candidate for best and brightest....

Of course the practice of positive discrimination is illegal and no company would ever set down targets for who should come in. But it does happen implicitly. Most companies are under some sort of pressure to raise the level of female and ethnic minority candidates they recruit. There is a reason why we have so many surveys on the amount of women in different professions and why companies/bodies when applying for government contracts/lottery funding are asked about the number of female employees etc.

Not being rude but there are many people posting here who do not seem to live in the real world. The real world is unfair and positive discrimination does take place ableit not openly or expressly. If it did not take place we might be in a position like France which has no strictures in this area, one of the reasons why rioting occurred last year and why their society is so fractured.

I do generally believe in meritocracy. But frankly it was never practiced properly in the past with the Conservative party being an obvious example alongside the large number of dim public school boys who got jobs in the city, which is why elements of positive discrimination had to come in through the back door.

For everyone's information: victoria - cheer up, sean is wrong, shit you're kidding, me too, can't say my name for fear of retribution and Cameron cutie all have the same IP address. There's not a lot of people agreeing with "can't say my name for fear of retribution" - just one person trying to cause trouble.

I've now banned the IP address.

Andrew,

No-one here is naive enough to believe that sexism and racism do not go on, however no-one would be stupid enough to actually openly propose it as a strategy surely?

Its not stupidity but pragmatism and an experience of past failure in this area. The party from what I understand has trying for years to use back room tactics and cajoling to get more female candidates selected. It has not worked therefore it is going for this unpopular approach.

I don't think it is such a stupid strategy anyway. For many voters perception rather than policies is key. You may not like it, I don't but it is the way the world is.

Dear Editor and others, I am male and proud of it... maybe a little confusion about my moniker which is taken from the very long street in Central London where I have an office.


One will never actually create a society which is perfectly meritocratic. But mandating policies from the centre that actually work against meritocracy (as the A List does)is perverse, IMO.

As Michael says, I would be delighted to get rid of mediocre male MPs. But replacing them with mediocre female MPs is hardly a step forward.

You may not like it, I don't but it is the way the world is.

No-one has to put up with it. In fact I clearly listed my opposition to positive discrimination in my letter of resignation from the party.

What is the point in being in politics if you are not seeking to stand up for what you believe and correct wrongs?

Its not stupidity
I disagree. imho, it is incredibly stupid.

This discussion reminds me of the process for selection for ordination in the Church of England. If you are a traditionalist, and in particular if you are opposed to the ordination of women, the odds are stacked against you and you will never get a fair hearing. You will face coldness, hostility and suspicion every inch of the way. The liberals who rig the selection process can always find some reason to reject you. And they rely on the fact that few people want to discuss their rejection afterwards. How sad to hear that the same methods are now being used to prevent true Conservatives from having a successful political career.

How sad to hear that the same methods are now being used to prevent true Conservatives from having a successful political career.

Well, if they really oppose positive discrimination they can do a Peter Law, resign and stand against.

However, I'm sure that most would put up with this discrimination if they manage to get on the list themselves, and are simply upset at not getting picked.

Stop moaning and act if you really oppose positive discrimination, or quit your whinging.

So "Victoria Street" is a man who pretends to be a woman?

Stop worrying, old chap. I'd say a transvestite working at CCHQ is a bloody shoo-in for the A List.

Heavens!
Am I the only person who found "Newly ex-party member's" comments above a bit hysterical?

No one here likes the idea of positive discrimination, but your comment that
The constant message I was receiving from all sides was that my case for being a candidate/on the priority list would not be considered fairly. I suffer from being white, male, and oxbridge educated.
strikes me as being petulant and rather self-indulgent and a very poor reason for not bothering to try in the first place.

Chris Philp for example has those three attributes and more importantly, knocked out a labour council leader, in a safe labour ward last weeek and has made some very interesting contributions to the party through his activities with the Bow Group. He has proved his excellence.
Have you?

You haven't listed anything about yourself on this thread that explains why you deserve to be on the Approved Candidates List (let's not even get on to the Priority List!)
You might get more sympathy if you stated your case better.

People like Philp are on the front-line doing what the Party needs to succeed - not on the website whinging and bitching without even bothering to apply to be on the Priority List.How arrogant of you.

I felt very guilty about resigning. My local Agent went into meltdown when I rang to tell her.
You should reassure her that there are many more white men from Oxbridge willing to take your place. I've met a fair few at Party events. I don't understand why she should go into meltdown at your resignation - is she your mother perhaps?

I oppose it and therefore resigned.

I wonder what the Northerner to Southerner ratio is in the list. There will be a pretty big rebellion in Northern marginals imo, if they feel they are having Southern candidates forced upon them with no feeling for the area. Look at what's happened to Harrogate by trying to parachute in Norman Lamont.

I oppose it and therefore resigned.

Yes, good on you.

I was aiming my criticism not at you but the likely ones who are remaining silent now until they know whether they are on the list or not, then will only claim to oppose positive discrimination if they fail to make the list.

Biodun,

1/ The message has come from various people who ought to know as well as through public reporting. I am not interested in taking part in a biased process, or for a party which does not appear to want my services.

2/ I only posted on the website after resigning. The decision process had taken a little while. At the same time I was giving up most of my limited free time campagining in two different local government elections, sitting on the local management committee, sitting on the local branch committee, doing some ground work for a local election campaign next year, and raising the largest amount in the association for any one event. Morevoer, if you want dedication to the party entering the marked registers for 2 constituencies onto bluechip is probably the most extreme dedication! Sadly I've never stood as a councillor but my job requires an average of 80 hours a week and I'd never make it to a meeting.

3/ There may be lots more like me but none of them are knocking on her door offering to help.

Anyway, enough whinging, I'm off to spread the right wing word through my other activities - campaigning and to work on my charitable activities. Apologies to have upset you.

Anyway, enough whinging, I'm off to spread the right wing word through my other activities - campaigning and to work on my charitable activities. Apologies to have upset you.
That's much better.
Becoming an MP is not easy, and if you're put off simply because your party starts to use a process you don't like, then it's probably not the job for you.

Believe me there would be a lot worse to swallow if you ever did get to the House of Commons.
Sitting MPs need to have the guts to fight against new party policies that are against conservative principles.
If you don't have the stomach to fight the system from within today, then you never will!

Better you quit now and save yourself the grief, eh?

Best of Luck in all your future endeavours!

Chad 13:43

Peter Law had a massive personal following and hence his victory was far easier to achieve.

During my interview i was asked if I had voted for David Cameron in the leadership election. Surley this was inappropriate? 14:24

Some of us would say no, and then add we didn't vote at all as we weren't a member of the party at the time.

I think it probably is an inappropriate question.

The Editor thinks that Mr Cameron is not pursuing an obviously ideological approach to selection. His objective is the simple one of increasing the number of women and ethnic Tory MPs.

This strikes me as incredibly naive. It's pretty darn obvious that Cameron and his team are very actively working on shoring up their position by ideologically shaping the new incoming class of MPs.

In this sense, he will really change the Tory party radically. Cameron is a young mand leading a young group of men and young who are very, very ambitious. They want to be elected to high offices of state. If Cameron doesn't win the next general elections, he will want to stay on to fight the next ones--and if not him, then one of his friends (Osborbe, Gove) will want to take over. Their biggest internal enemy is the Right (the pre-Thatcher soggy Europhile left having been purged, both in elections and selections, over the years). It's pretty obvious that Cameron et al are working very hard to ensure that his 'modernizing' faction will have an unassailable majority in the parliamentary party and the Right cannot make a comeback.

This makes the whole selection process of incredible importance. I'm very glad that ConservativeHome is basically the only outlet to systematically following it, but really even CH is NOT giving the crucial story the attention it deserves.

Annabel if you had a prospective Tory candidate standing in your constituency, which would you consider to be more important - that they came from the area, broadly speaking and understood Northerners (or appeared to), or that they were female??

Naturally you would probably prefer both combined, but I am assuming for this thesis that. that would not be possible.

Because I think that as there is such a large area north of the Watford Gap (as people say), which needs to be convinced that Tory believers are not from Mars, and that they are not all self-interested, patronising, arrogant ... LIKE PRESCOTT, LIKE C. CLARKE etc:, that IMHO somebody from each local area is much more likely to persuade his fellow 'locals' than someone with a 'strange' accent from South of Watford.??????

Selecting people for jobs is just not the same as selecting candidates in an election.

This is a team effort, and we need to think as a team and not as a group of individuals.

The Conservative Party’s effort as a whole will be affected by the collective strength of all our candidates and the signal that sends out about the Party to the country.

MP’s hate to admit this, but individual candidates results are 95% down to what happens nationally and only about 5% down to their own campaign/personal vote. In the case of a PPC selection, therefore, singular ability is secondary to team fit.

It is daft to argue that the Party collectively shouldn’t be able to adjust the overall candidate team offered to the country to ensure it is one that is a vote winner.

Sometimes that will require greater diversity and sometimes I suspect it will require the opposite –in some seats a narrowing of diversity because of the need for a local candidate.

If the promotion of diverse candidates works politically there will be a lot more winnable seats for all candidates to benefit from and surely that is the important issue here?

When it comes to associations selecting their PPC, it is the view of the candidates on policy issues which is at least as important as their personality, ability etc. If members of an association selection panel want a candidate who is strongly eurosceptic, then a europhile will not be acceptable, even if he or she was good in other ways.

If CCHQ are asking them if they voted for Cameron, it seems they are seeking to select those who are in sympathy with his views. Perhaps the only way to succeed is to be a little economical with the actualite, to coin a phrase.

The whole rigging of the selection process so that a local association cannot choose the person they want should be anathema to all of us. That's not grassroots democravcy It's what the Communists dalled "democratic centralism" It's a Marxist concept.

This whole farrago shows the cringingly wet leader in his true light.

Labour tried positive selection but in their case the women got the seats which were doubtful. With the landslide they got elected often to their own surprised shock. They've been a nearly uniform diusater.

Most women that I know do not want the life of an MP and on the whole I'm not too keen on the few that do.

CCHQ cannot force any constituency association to select anyone.

Not so, JohnC. The constitution of the Party gives CCHQ this precise power, and it was used to chilling effect on Slough last year.

I have a Muslim friend who is waiting for his A-list letter. The thing is, I'd bet my life (almost) that he's made it because he's Muslim.

I am sad people are resigning over this. Where will you go? THis party belongs to all Conservatives, not just a few policy-makers. Isn't the best strategy to stay and change things from within?

Most women that I know do not want the life of an MP and on the whole I'm not too keen on the few that do.

I wonder how many women like yourself are sitting on selection committees around the country and discriminating against perfectly capable women because they don't like the cut of their jib.

The misgivings of most women that you know, Christina, are quite frankly irrelevant.

Questions that PinkNews will be asking on Wednesday:-


As there was no publicly available (online) information explaining how to apply- how can those selected for the A-list be anyone other than existing Conservative insiders?

Will this really bring in candidates from minority groups alienated from the party in the past?

What efforts will the party make to ensure that those from non-traditional Tory backgrounds can get a foot on the ladder,
especially if have experience of the real world over voluntary party
experience?

Roughly what percentage of candidates are from the LGBT community?

Insights welcome

The Conservative Party in the way it looks and talks as seemed in recent years to be detached from modern Britain.People will not vote for a party that looks old fashioned and out of touch. David Cameron is trying to rectify this situation and I think he deserves support for trying to do that.
On friday last week and over the weekend this site was almost unaminous in praise for Cameron and the leadership, now it seems that we are back to the normal carping and moaning and talking down the party.
David Cameron was elected on a platform of change. It seems that a lot in the party seem to have the opinion that they believe in change as long as nothing changes.

Why's the list being hidden is another question.

Andrew M @ 13.35 -- 'It should also not be forgotten that studies have shown the female candidates do better than male condidates in terms of wimming votes'

Not necessarily, I can think of one female MP who single-handedly just about 'did for' the whole Tory party!!

Perhaps you should have qualified the sentence somewhat - 'studies have shown that SOME female candidates do better....

I DO believe in sexual equality, but I feel very uneasy with a sort of deification of one sex. For a start for the female MP concerned it is quite a difficult 'vote' to live up to, and as several of us (women) and lots of men on this site have said before, women HAVE made the grade in the Tory party before, without positive discrimination lists.

Jack, is there anything Cameron does that you don't support. Although, there are some serial Cameron moaners, there are some genuine questions and concerns on here which can't and shouldn't be dismissed.

Not necessarily, I can think of one female MP who single-handedly just about 'did for' the whole Tory party!!

Which one Patsy?

Nadim, I thought that in Slough CCHQ had to suspend the whole constituency association in order to impose its own candidate. It is hard to imagine that it would go to this extreme with every association which refuses to select the chosen priority list candidate. I think it is a real possibility that there will be another party grassroots rebellion similar to the one heroically led by CH against the new party leadership election rules.

IMO it would have been far better had the party leadership contented itself with expressing the hope that more female and ethnic candidates will be selected instead of preparing this list and then stating ambiguously that associations are 'expected' to choose the candidate they are given. What will happen to the associations who don't ? Why should it be a reasonable expectation that a priority list candidate, chosen through such a clearly biassed selection process, will appear preferable to any other candidate at the selection meeting ?

"This strikes me as incredibly naive. It's pretty darn obvious that Cameron and his team are very actively working on shoring up their position by ideologically shaping the new incoming class of MPs"

Well, I'd certainly be surprised if many people with known right wing views were to make it onto the Priority List.

There are, as I see it, several problems with the A-list proposal.

1) It essentially argues that people's primary political determinant is race or gender.

This is clearly wrong. People vote for the party - and the candidate that they two - for all manner of reasons, social and political. The Tories traditionally did better amongst women than men, and this trend reversed when we elected Mrs Thatcher as our leader. There is no evidence to suggest that women are more likely to vote for women. Most Labour-voting women are not likely to vote Tory just because we have a female candidate. Of course it may a part of one's political identity, and for some more than others (militant feminists, for example) but it is not the primary determinant.

2) It is not being applied in a logical manner.

The argument runs that in order to represent a particular group, one must come from that group. However, each individual constituency is better placed than CCHQ to determine who can represent that constituency. Someone like Andrew Rosindell, though I disagree with him on certain social issues, is ideally suited for Romford. Yet were the priority list in place in 2001, it is likely that someone manifestly less suited for the constituency would have been parachuted in (as it was a key marginal). Moreover, there seems to be an arbitrary divide between factors which we discriminate on (race, gender) and those which we do not (income, education, occupation, faith etc.), yet these latter factors would appear potentially more "representative". An Asian Oxbridge-educated accountant is likely to have more in common with a white Oxbridge-educated accountant than with an Asian self-employed taxi driver.

3) It presumes that there are "female" or "ethnic" issues, and a party with a higher proportion of MPs from these backgrounds these will focus on these issues.

I can accept that there are disparities between issues that electors will vote on, but I find it alarming that certain issues can be automatically labelled as being particular to a demographic. What, for example, is a "black" or a "Chinese" issue? In any event, the influence that a typical backbencher has on policy selection is roughly nil. Policy selection arises partially from the media, partially from the interplay of party politics, partially from organised pressure groups, partially from events and partially from think tanks. Backbenchers have nearly no influence. If we are so desperate to "identify" these issues, ask a focus group.

4) It undercuts our arguments about positive discrimination in other areas.

Conservatives have made the case against positive discrimination in other areas. Some people on this board may feel that this argument is wrong, and we should welcome positive discrimination across the board. However, if we seek to employ it in our own party, it does undermine our stance when we argue against it in other areas. People in favour of the priority list should consider the wider impact of such a move.

Under point 1), first line, "two" should be "choose". Apologies for the grotesque typo.

Perhaps potential Conservative male candidates could undergo a sex change on the NHS. They could always change back and it might be beneficial in the long-term...

Excellent points, AlexW.
It's nice to see the case against the Priority List made rationally.

There are too many "Is it because I is white/male/hetero?" comments on this issue.

From what I've read, it appears many people DO favour positive discrimination just not when it comes to women or minorities.

Why positively discriminate on behalf of a crap local candidate?

If the choice was between an able CCO-appointed apparatchik or a local incompetent, I'd take the former anyday!

Just because someone is local doesn't mean they are any good.

Just because their from a Minority doesn't mean they won't be the proverbial CCO "fart in a spacesuit" either.

One of the party's strengths is its local control. How else have we survived 9 years in the wilderness. Due to CCO ? :-)

So just as we appear to be turning a corner let's not set up our own "Bleneau Gwent" for the future. The party is changing naturally - we don't need CCO diktats.

I didn't know George Osbourne wore a spacesuit ?

I have 2 concerns about this debate.

(1) This issue is divisive. We need to appear united in the face of Labour divisions. Therefore this issue provides ammunition to our enmies in the media and is not helpful to our cause.

(2) If CCHQ succeed in imposing this on the constituencies, isn't there a risk that the media will proclaim that Tories are still dinosaurs and the new slate of candidates are an attempt to hoodwink the public?

Do these concerns outweigh the undoubted electoral benefits of a more representative slate of candidates? In my opinion, Yes.

We should find an alternative (non-divisive) approach to creating more opportunities for non-white-male candidates, leading to a party-wide consensus on the objective (more balanced representation).

To do that, CCHQ needs to open a discussion on the options available, leading to a commitment from the constituencies to implement fair selection policies that will achieve the agreed results.

By engaging all members and getting their agreement, we would not only end up with the desired outcome but we would scotch the "same old Tories" myth that our enemies are propagating.

Alex W is absolutely right and Rosindell is case in point. He would *never* be seleced by Cameron and as a result Cameron would never have won Romford...

Just because their from a Minority doesn't mean they won't be the proverbial CCO "fart in a spacesuit" either.

No one is saying that.
The issue is not minorities, the issue is positive discrimination to advance whatever cause catches the "planners" fancy.

AlexW's points out this fallacy of identity politics above when he notes
The argument runs that in order to represent a particular group, one must come from that group.
Just because someone is local doesn't mean that they can represent all the locals in their area.

I was particularly ashamed to go campaigning for one particular local ward outside my own constituency.
The councillor in question was shambolic in every way.
He had no inter-personal skills whatsoever
-Openly admitting he was only running as a stepping stone to a parliamentary career,
-insulting residents, after grinning and pretending to be concerned about their issues
- Running down other conservative councillors behind their backs
- Spent all of his time laughing at the labour candidate and her campaign, claiming that she was as thick as two short planks (she won, he lost by a wide margin and bucked the trend for that council).

The local association in that constituency is made up of him, his close friends, their parents and siblings.

I never said a word, but I was embarassed to be campaigning on their behalf.

Too many people assume that all is well with the Tory Grassroots. There are many fine local associations out there, including my own, but we should not pretend that judgement in each one is sound and beyond reproach.

"He had no inter-personal skills whatsoever
-Openly admitting he was only running as a stepping stone to a parliamentary career,
-insulting residents, after grinning and pretending to be concerned about their issues
- Running down other conservative councillors behind their backs
- Spent all of his time laughing at the labour candidate and her campaign, claiming that she was as thick as two short planks (she won, he lost by a wide margin and bucked the trend for that council)."

He sounds like a nightmare. Has he applied to get onto the A List?

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