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I hope no one is actually going to be taken in by this?

What happens once you have applied? [From the CCO website]

Your application will be assessed. We will then write to you to let you know whether you have made it through to the next round – a series of interviews held in London in August and September.

So, you can have any you opinions you like, as long as they're ones Maude and his 'assessors' agree with.

I for one I am sure that this 'assessment' will be at least as honest, open, fair, transparent and non-factional as, say, the interviews for the List.

We have our one chance (end of a long period of Labour rule nationally) to win a London wide-poll (London is historically a Labour city, and will almost certainly revert to being so, as and when we get back to power at Westminster). By hand-picking one of his duds, which Maude will, he is going to balls this up. Wait and see.

The Campaign Bulletin says: A selection panel, with a broad range of experience and interests, will assess all applications. A broad list will be drawn up for interviews. Candidates will be vetted to ensure their suitability and integrity to hold such an important public post. The panel will decide the final shortlist; we anticipate potentially up to half a dozen people.

Well, we can only wait and see but I have no reason to believe that Francis Maude will have a final say. Even if he did, the panel is not going to select six clones to go before the public. I'm sure the hustings phase, like the party leadership process, will be an exciting time and provide plenty of scrutiny. "Maude" should be commended for this progressive, democratic intiative.

Comment in the wrong section:

"I believe that Boris Johnson should stand. (Even if he doesn't I would like to nominate him for a parallel Conservative Home poll.)

My reasons are that, although he is hugely popular with the public, he has demonstrated on too many occasions his unsuitability for high ranking (shadow) ministerial office e.g. failing to prepare for speeches, too many other money earning commitments, sexual shenanigans etc. However, he is loveable, a showman, a brilliant mind, would run rings round Ken Livingstone and would be an absolute shoo-in for the Tories."

Posted by: A personal view | June 12, 2006 at 10:50

Mr Maude does not trust the party members, to make the right choice. That is a kick in the teeth considering the excellent results in the London local elections.

Where does the party constitution say that non-members can participate in the selection process? In my copy, it does not.

It is proposed that a TEAM of headhunters will be used to find new candidates. This is not a job, it is a vocation that requires a committed and experienced politician.

How much will all this cost? Quite a considerable amount but Maude says that candidates will have to fund their campaign. CCHQ funds the selection but not the candidate's campaign


(nearly chokes on his words.... but....)

I have to (very grudgingly) admit this is an excellent idea.

You have raised the bar here. Is Ken planning to stand again? -If not Labour would be well advised to follow!!

Ken is definitely standing again. He has already announced that he would like to be mayor at the time of the Olympics in 2012.

At least it is a step in the right direction.
It is of course a very high profile position and the candidate chosen has to be without a shadow of a doubt the very best Man/Woman for the job.Maybe some of the safe Labour seats in the North could also be advertised in this way,we have nothing to loose by trying.

Brilliant move. An innovative way to raise the profile not just of the candidate but of the party as a whole - it could create a buzz around whoever wins the selection contest that could help carry us on to win.

'What everyone is thinking' - I am not thinking anything like what is in your post. Do you really think there should be no filtering of the applicants at all? You think there should be dozens of people all taking part in the contest? Of course not. It is in no one's interest for Maude to select 'duds' and I'm sure he will not do so.

It's important to question the decisions the leadership make, but when posters such as 'Worried' start overreacting and denounce as a 'disgrace' every step that moves us out of our comfort zone that has kept us below 33% of the vote for 13 years, it only makes us seem disunited and provides an easy target for Labour and the Lib Dems.

"Everyone on the electoral register in London will be able to have a say over who will be the Conservative candidate..."

"The Party plans to make much use of the internet in the selection process and voters will be able to cast their votes by phone and by text message."

Great ideas. Now, what number do I set my auto-dialler to vote for Michael Portillo?

Surely whoever wins the contest will be able to raise enough money.

OK so some could do so more quickly, but when you bear in mind the stakes, £1.000.000 is not that much.

Think of it as an investment to get rid of Ken.

No, no, no, no, no...this wont do. I have a natural dislike for involving any non-Conservatives in the process and that view has not changed at all. We cannot allow non-Conservatives any opportunity to skew the result. Others say I am wrong because they will have a small role and cannot muster the influence necessary. But they can and the press release says they can. They will be allowed to be on the panel for heavens sake, which gives them a lot of influence.

The Conservative candidate must be a Tory member. It cannot just be a mere supporter...it needs to be someone who is an active member of the party, who has done things for the Party.

The candidate must represent the Tories first and foremost. The electorate decides later whether our candfidate is good enough to be Mayor. Its a waste of time and resources to open the system out so early when they get to choose later anyway. Maude has yet again made a mistake. Sorry Maude, you must do better. By all means open it up to the entire membership of London and let them vote on who it should be, but non-Conservative party members MUST be excluded from it. Its not worth the risk.

I suspect "What everyone is thinking" and "Worried" are actually the same person posting as two.

Anyone who has been reading this blog will know we've been in actively supporting open primaries for ages.

Criticising Maude for doing what the wider London membership has been asking for for ages makes no sense.

"A small group of head-hunters will seek to encourage a broad range of candidates to apply"

Does anyone know who these headhunters are??

This is a bold step, implementing Primaries for the election of the mayor and shows a new outlook once again.

With the introduction of primaries and previous support for an elected second chamber, we are showing our belief in the individual and democracy rather than Tony's nanny state.

This is brilliant news, an innovative idea that will give us weeks of publicity and the eventual winner of the primary a very high profile.

The few examples of the Party trying this in the past have been extremely succesful - perhaps we could get a report on this site about them?

Whats to stop Labour or the Limp Dems organising a campaign for their supporters to distort the vote - ie go for the candidate they want most as she/he is least likely to win in the final vote ?

I have no doubt that this news is the first step to winning London...

Opposition 'moles' on this site trying to undermine this idea should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Labour will be very worried indeed.

Open Primaries are the future and the way to re-connect the public with politics.

My only concern with this is what steps are taking to guard against foul play. Following the local elections there were plenty of examples of irregularities such as over 20 voters being registered at a single address and obvious examples of postal votes being fradulently redirected.

What steps will the party take to ensure that our opponents do not wage a concerted campaign to select the candidate they prefer?

I beleive strongly in "Open Primaries". But a necessary part of an "open primary" is an open system by which candidates can get on the ballot. A truly open system would allow anybody to be on the ballot who had fulfilled certain minimal qualifications(such as posting a deposit). A truly open system would not have a party committee vetting which candidates are suitable, but rather list all candidates on the ballot and let the voters make the choice.

A truly open system would not have a party committee vetting which candidates are suitable, but rather list all candidates on the ballot and let the voters make the choice

The ballot paper would be God knows how long!

Presumably there will be a shortlisting role for members who will have a say before the 'open' primary.

It would also be advantageous to handle this primary over the net.

An interesting approach and one which could have a good outcome.

Presumably there will be a shortlisting role for members who will have a say before the 'open' primary

I would suggest a committee to get it down to a sensible number (9 or 10 say), followed by a ballot of membership to provide a final three or four for the open primary.

It's such a invovative idea for this type of election I'm almost tempted to wish you luck with this....almost!

Thanks to Francis Maude, Ken Livingston now has the same say in Conservative Mayor candidate selection that I do, after 22 years of Conservative Party membership.

This is totally insane.

What is the point of being a member of the Conservative Party if this is the case.

We can look forward to Norris receiving shedloads of votes from Toryhaters, on the basis that if he was going to beat Ken, he would have done it by now.

Some time ago, Blair laid out his guiding goal in politics, to destroy "the forces of Conservatism".

Why should he bother, when Maude is doing the job for him.

Until Cameron sacks this idiot, we can kiss goodbye to any real electability at a General Election.

Could we not charge non conservatives £5 to be able to vote, thus stopping our opponents from trying to rig the vote.

We can look forward to Norris receiving shedloads of votes from Toryhaters, on the basis that if he was going to beat Ken, he would have done it by now.

Livingstone isn't well liked by many on the Labour side, so I shouldn't worry.

I'm more interested in how you plan to stop multiple SMS voting- this isn't an election for Big Brother, it needs to be fraudproof.

'Everyone on the electoral register in London will be able to have a say over who will be the Conservative candidate to challenge Ken Livingstone for the capital’s top job.'

This is the looniest idea I have ever heard. Both Labour and Lib Dem voters (who together form a majority) will obviously vote for the candidate with the least chance of winning. What a gift to the opposition parties. Have I missed something ?

"Livingstone isn't well liked by many on the Labour side, so I shouldn't worry".

I didn't say Labour. I said Toryhater. There is a major difference. These are people who do not care who wins so long as we do not.

JohnC, youve not missed a thing. Its slightly funny that the non-Conservatives will have more of a role in the candidate selection than they do in the Built to Last! Shouldnt it be the other way round?

Re: fraud...

We will use the same electoral system as for the London Mayor elections. Anti-fraud and identification measures will be put in place by Electoral Reform Services to identify and authenticate the voter, and to prevent multiple voting.

Re: cost...

There are Prodi-esque(4 million Italians declared they were supporters of the centre-left, paid one euro, and popped the ballot paper into the box - to vote him as their Prime Ministerial candidate) ways of doing it, as Serf alluded to.

I imagine the party will charge something like a pound to text/phone a vote in - easily done and will probably deter a few non-Conservatives on principle.

"Your application will be assessed. We will then write to you to let you know whether you have made it through to the next round".

Good-bye Nikki Page, in that case.

A brilliant initiative. Selecting our candidates through open primaries will give us a headstart in terms of media coverage, ensure a genuinely representative candidate, create a corpus of Londoners with a stake in the success of "their" candidate and - best of all - show that the Conservative Party is serious about devolving powers outwards and downwards. There is a mound of empirical evidence that open primaries lead to higher swings (see my article on this site from last October - there's a link on the left hand margin of this page). Well done, Francis.

Daniel Hannan MEP Oct 05: A case for a decentralised Conservative Party and open primaries.

Welcome news - it will give, as Daniel pointed out a while ago, a much enhanced image to the Conservative Candidate (forget Winning Here! saying London Chose Me is very effective).

Perhaps in 2012 PM Dave can cycle to the Golden Jubilee or Olympics alongside a Tory Mayor...(so I think that'd rule Steve Norris out - can't see him on a bike)

This is a good move. Unlike a Parliamentary seat, an election for Mayor revolves around personalities.

This is a gamble, and as a member I am concerned about my rights, but well done to CCHQ for trying something new. It should engage the public and give our eventual candidate a flying start.

"so I think that'd rule Steve Norris out - can't see him on a bike"

Actually, you're wrong. Not only is Steve a cyclist but as a minister, he authored the original National Cycling Strategy for England, and was invited by the current Labour government to found and lead the National Cycling Strategy Board. Steve is also a Patron of Sustrans, the cycling charity. He was a Tory who cycled before it was fashionable.

This is the looniest idea I have ever heard. Both Labour and Lib Dem voters (who together form a majority) will obviously vote for the candidate with the least chance of winning. What a gift to the opposition parties. Have I missed something ?

Yes, you have. A lot of Labour voters don't like Ken, and a fair number of Liberal Democrat voters might vote Tory on second preference.
"Livingstone isn't well liked by many on the Labour side, so I shouldn't worry".

I didn't say Labour. I said Toryhater. There is a major difference. These are people who do not care who wins so long as we do not.

I refer the honourable member to the answer I gave some moments ago ;)

I'd certainly normally class myself as a 'toryhater' but I think Ken Livingstone is a smarmy champagne socialist. Luckily I don't live in London, or I'd have a very difficult choice to make. These people might not vote for you (a few might though), but I'd be surprised if they try to scupper this.

I agree that the open primary would give a candidate good publicity, but I share the concerns of others about the influence of non-members. Some payment of at least £5 should be made to keep them out. I understand that the selection panel is to include non-conservatives. That seems wrong to me.

We want to increase our support base and allowing Conservatives to have a say for a small payment is good.

Labour and Lib-Dem supporters are not monomaniacs who would deliberately skew the results of our Primary. Our opposition are somewhat misguided but, nevertheless, intelligent and caring. They will realise that orchestrated attempts to pick the worst candidate would incense the wider electorate and could well result in an own-goal… their last choice being elected as Mayor. We wouldn’t skew a Labour Primary for the same reasons, and it’s unnecessarily contemptuous towards our opponents to suggest that they would act less intelligently.

This is great news. We need to break open the whole process. I don't think for a moment that Francis Maude and the committee will serve up only clones, because it would be so obviously fatal. I think they really do intend to do something new and interesting.

Of course there are many issues about the voting, but charge people at least £1 through texting (or even as someone suggested above £5) and that would sort that out. I don't believe there would be enough anti-Conservative activists to skew the vote to what they consider the 'worst option', and if some do, let them pay for the privilege!

Three cheers, then. I hope the process itself will have lots of voting rounds, not just one, so that we get some real excitement building up.

I couldn't believe this idea of looking at non-Conservative candidates - Seems that we may end-up with somebody like that Bishop who doesn't believe in God.

Perhaps Ken Livingstone could be selected as Conservative candidate and double his chances.

"Whats to stop Labour or the Limp Dems organising a campaign for their supporters to distort the vote - ie go for the candidate they want most as she/he is least likely to win in the final vote ?"

As Mark alluded to above, it is likely that such a campaign would be met with a negative reaction from the public.

And in this internet age, it is even more likely that any attempt to keep such a campaign secret would soon be exposed by the likes of Paul Staines or Iain Dale.

In any case, I would recommend implementing a small charge to participate in the primary (£5 seems sensible), which would deter mischief-makers as well as serving as a useful fundraising mechanism.

You pay 15 quid a year for membership, and yet you arent allowed a right to vote without coughing up more? Paying for votes...nice!

I have just heard that the Conservative party is thinking of a new logo to replace the torch. Why not debate what the regulars on Conservative home think should replace it, if indeed they think it should be replaced? How about a Blue Lion Rampant, but perhaps thats a little too traditionalist and a bit off message for the changing tories to adopt?

Personally I am totally against this.Members pay there membership fee each year so they can have a say in the running of the party and who its candidates are. I don`t see why someone who pay`s nothing into the party is going to have the same say on who`s going to be the party`s mayoral candidate then someone who does.
Also what is to stop supporters of other party`s coming together and voting for the candiate who they see as the person there party could most easily beat.
I am afriad this is total nonsense, unfair and I suspect unworkable.

The Blue Lion would be nice (in fact it provided inspiration for my email address), but with this "softly softly" bunch of Tories, arent we lying to the public about attributes the lions have? The only lions I see are the activists. It doesnt include the leadership, who are just pansies.

Six (say) good Tory candidates, but which one has the broadest appeal? A very good way to find out is to ask outside the party as well as inside. This "I pay for my vote" mentality is rather childish.

The decision is to choose between the various parties candidates, not choose candidates before the election proper.

As for the paying, I think its out of order. Its not childish to make a point about it. Making party members pay just to choose a candidate is unfair. Activists spend a lot of their own money doing work for the party. Why should they be asked to pay out again because the Party cant be arsed to cough up the money itself...they came up with the idea, not the membership.

Jack has an opinion different to that of the leadership!!! Remember the date everyone.

I'm personally in favour of the scheme. Sometimes our members aren't the representative of the public at large, and so choose people we may like, but don't have broad appeal. With this, the old argument that all Tories look the same is diminished as everyone is invited to vote for the candidate. There is also a feeling of community involvment.

Labour and the Lib Dems may try to organise people to vote, but the candidates are being vetted, so you won't be getting a Hartlepool Monkey standing. If it was proved they were trying to distort the vote, how pathetic would it look.

Well, I welcome the idea of an open primary, and I believe that it will bring a tremendous amount of good publicity to the party, and the eventual candidate for Mayor of London.

I think charging £5 would greatly decrease the number of people who would vote in such a primary, with voter apathy as it is I doubt you could persuade many people to cough up £5 to elect someone to be on a ballot paper. A fee of around 50p - £1 would be best, and multiple votes can easily be stopped by logging the phone numbers of people voting.

The most important thing though, is that Conservative memebers should have a vote for free, after all what is the Conservative party without its members?

"Personally I am totally against this." - Jack Stone

That's swung it for me!

Seriously though, I wonder how much consultation there was with London Conservative groups about this move - perhaps Sean Fear or the campaigning director for the north east London area and ConservativeHome resident satirist could enlighten us?

Although I broadly support this move, it seems to me like it has been rushed through without proper consultation, which would have allowed ideas like a small participation fee for non-members to be put forward for consideration and possible implementation.

In any case, I would recommend implementing a small charge to participate in the primary (£5 seems sensible)

Five quid is far too much. People would consider that equivilant to setting fire to a five pound note.

Sorry James M, I wasn't meaning that it's childish to complain about paying. The argument that I find childish is that non-members shouldn't vote because they don't pay their dues.

My view is that there should be no barrier to voting, so no charge. Any charge would put off large numbers, reinforce the misconception that we are the party of the rich and potentially cause a humiliatingly low turnout. Better to finance the exercise ourselves and reap the rewards of increased membership and goodwill.

Grumble, grumble. Moan, moan. Instinctively opposed. Disgusted. Worse thing in the history of the world ever. Whole Party being taken over by communists. Rant. Scream. Wail. Howl.

That is all.

Tom! 22:58. At least they arnt doing their Victor Meldrew act in the street.
Kris, Blue Chameleon? That would SO p..s Nulab off.

Tom Grieves...thats pathetic. We are bringing up genuine concerns and you mock it as being moaning for moanings sake. You clearly have no idea whats going on.

James Maskell 23:54:

I wasn't mocking everyone who was being critical - rather those who instinctively moan - and there ARE some who fall into that category.

With the best will in the world, I have a sensationally good idea of what's going on. I speak to members of the Shadow Cabinet on a regular basis (I spoke to one a few hours ago), I am a former Shadow Cabinet adviser, I used to write Party policy, and I read politics at Oxford.

And yes, I did write that last paragraph in as obnoxious a style as possible. But it's all true.

Rock and roll will NEVER die.

Give us your William Hague impression, Tom!! Anything else on your CV we should know about??!!

"I used to write Party policy" - I love it!!

You might want to do your homework before taking a pop at people, James!!

I think this is the most fantastic idea yet. It's the right thing to do - I think lots of people who comment on the Alist blogs often mention the idea of primaries (I do) for selecting parliamentary candidates, so why not for the London mayoral also?

I can see some sort of tactical advantage beyond the really obvious one that we'll get the Tory candidate with the strongest probability of winning: presumably folk will be asked to register as Conservative supporters as they take part in the polling ... what a great mailing list to get your constituency hands on!

"And yes, I did write that last paragraph in as obnoxious a style as possible."

Never noticed...I assumed that was your normal style. Moaning about criticism is pathetic. Just because there are some of us who wont just fall in line, it doesnt mean we are instinctive moaners...it means we're unimpressed or that we have concerns about the proposals.

I like the idea of primaries but am quite sceptical as to why they should be opened up to people who are not Conservative party members.Has there been any official comment as to why this should be thought to be a good idea?

I think it is an excellent idea, so a big well done to Cameron on this.

The aim is to get the wide public involved because obviously the mayor will be representing everyone not just conservative party members.

However, I do think they should charge no more than £1.50 and for party members it should be deducted from their next membership renewal fee.

That will be both fair to current members and help negate any disruption.

If Cameron needs a reason not to do this...its because Chad supports it! :)


It's a fantastic idea, and should be the first toe in the water of using it for parliamentary candidate selection.

If/when it is a huge success, there will be no excuse not to extend it to regular parliamentary candidate selection too.

There is no fundamental difference, it is about letting people pick the right candidate.

Seems a good idea to me....and long overdue. Remember the ghastly hustings when Jeffrey Archer was chosen as candidate for Mayor and then ringingly endorsed by William Hague?

Tom Greeves speaks to members of the shadow cabinet! AND he still speaks (down) to us.

Tom Greeves used to write party policy! AND he admits that in public.

Tom Greeves read politics at Oxford! Making him the most talented man ever to live.

With fans like this, the project will live forever.

Congratulations. You rose to the bait.

My comment concerning payment was supposed to refer to non party members, a point that other people have made.

Ok so a fiver is perhaps too much, but a quid each would go a long way towards, both putting off opponents, and raising the money to pay for the whole thing. Who knows, the winner could end up with a fighting fund before they start.

This is really excellent news. The detail needs to be sorted out, but the principle of holding a London-wide primary is completely right.

This is clear evidence of the party trying to reach out beyond its established support base and re-engage with the electorate. It is modernisation through decentralisation. It widens & broadens decision-making in a way that chimes authentically with Conservative principles.

For what it's worth I would suggest that everyone wishing to vote should have to register as a Conservative Supporter. Existing members should pay no charge. I would prefer not to charge non-members either, but if financially necessary a small admin charge of somewhere between £1.00 & £5.00 could be made.

Because voting is restricted to London electors, they will have to identify their postal address, giving us access to a large list of Conservative supporters, as Graeme Archer said at 7.34.

Tim and many of us who have been blogging on this site have been making a consistent case for primaries since last summer. Those making the case for have been winning that argument. This decision is further testament to the power of the Internet as a forum to test ideas. All credit to the Party for listening, and for taking this seriously. Now let's see it unrolled for our parliamentary selections as well.

Simon, perhaps an amalgamation of your ideas could be:

Make it clear that by voting they are implying that they are supportive of the CP, and require voters to give their home address - to show they are in the constituency and to be able to issue a follow-up leaflet about how great the elected person is and our vision for London. It would cost a lot more to do such a mail-shot but that would count as part of the mayoral campaign expenses* rather than the selection's. The leaflet would probably be a one-off, but if not it would have an email address to request removal from the mailing list (to make up for people giving the CP someone else's address).

That would be one way of doing it anyway, although would be a lot more hassle - especially as addresses would probably be sent/received by text or over the phone.

* As I mentioned in this post, the original proposals given to Watlington apparently suggested that the candidate would have to fund the campaign against Ken themselves. This was not mentioned yesterday at all though, so today I asked the ever-helpful James McGrath (Francis Maude's Chief of Staff) who said:

"The person who spoke to Watlington was not involved with our internal discussion so I cannot comment except to say that candidates will be expected to have access to a wide range of funding for their campaign against Ken."

Another clarification I sought was about the requirements for candidates. The Campaign Bulletin said "Anyone can put themselves forward to be a candidate, provided that they are a party member at the time of applying", Francis said in this article any "supporter" (i.e. member?) could stand, and the press have mostly reported today that any London voter can stand. It's an anorak point, but the actual way it will work is "You have to be a party member at time of applying (it is part of the selection process). That means that non-members (ie supporters) could apply but they would need to immediately join the party!" - Perhaps it was just me but it definitely makes sense now!

1. Experience with open primaries in other countries has shown that the fears of Labourite trolls taking over the nomination process are groundless.
2. Fears that the ballot will contain "too many" candidates are groundless. We should isntead be worried that the ballot will list "too few" candidates.
3. Under the present system, we've gotten Red Ken as mayor. Isn't that reason enough to try a new approach?

As a Lib Dem I am all in favour of involving the wider electorate in the political process at more stages and times and I think this is a good move by the Conservative party .
I am not quite so impressed by some of the posters on here who seem to be looking at the benefits of the proposal as a cash raising exercise ( which will put off most of the non-political London electorate which in effect means most of the electorate ) and those who see the exercise as not an extension to democracy but a means of getting a free list of potential supporters .
Personally I am in favour of open selection for parliamentary candidates and even party leaders but open should mean free and open to all .

I agree Mark, the necessary filtering of timewasters should be done by making candidates lodge an entrance fee themselves (with the sum of all these fees going towards the election expenses of the winner). All entrants should also be required to supply a certain number of supporters who are eligible to vote in the mayoral election.

If CCO filters the list, a candidate who could be popular with the people but not the party could be kept out of the running, which defeats the whole point of the exercise, making it look open when in fact it is really a central control exercise.

A choice of 3 bad candidates is little improvement over one bad one being imposed and could backfire.

Instead of asking the candidate to lodge an entrance fee, what about requiring them to collect a set number of nominations - to be veriifed independently. It would need to be enough to discourage time wasters, but not so many as to be unrealistic. 100? 250?

Mark - the point of it is emphatically not to gather a free list of supporters. That is, however, an undeniable benefit that would flow from engaging with the electorate in this way. All parties need to rebuild relationships with individual voters - and building a list of registered supporters is an excellent way of opening communication.

As long as CCO is not pruning the list Simon, otherwise it will be pointless and will not engage people outside the party to get involved.

The party has a real chance to innovate here, and show real change, showing real trust in the people.

The current plan does seem to be that there will be central filtering. I hope that is dropped as it would be presenting central selection as open selection and is likely to backfire and lead to more accusations of superficial change etc.

Of course filtering is necessary, but as you suggest, simply obtaining a set number of signatures from eligible voters more than meets this requirement.

Simon, Chad, you got it right. The signature-gathering requirement has been used extensively in the U.S., with few or no problems. In general, this requirement has screened out the "joke" candidates without any need for the party organization to get involved.

Hi Bruce
The decision now is for the party. Will they ignore this and proceed with control-freakery central filtering (ignoring the sensible signature collection approach) which will keep control of selection but lose the interest of the wider public, or will they really open the contest to Londoners who appeal to Londoners but not necessarily CCO?

Like the A-list, I can't help but think that the usual inability (all politicians not just the Tories) to really trust the people or release a bit of power, could make the whole thing a real farce.

That would be a real shame if this is just central-selection dressed up as empowering communities, as if done properly, it could uncover a real gem who could really challenge Ken.

If CCO filters the list in any way, watch the interest and turn-out from non-Tories plummet.


Can you shed any light on what the US threshholds for signature-gathering might be, in a race equivalent in size for the nomination for the London Mayoralty? How many signatures are needed to weed out non-serious candidates?


If participation is restricted to people on the London electoral role it is a given that they must provide the party with their address, if only to prove that they qualify. Each individual would also require a personal PIN code, to send in with their vote - that would prevent multiplicity of voting.

There is therefore a need for anyone intending to participate to register as a qualified voter. It would also be sensible for the registration application to state that all those registering them are identifying themselves at least as potential Conservative supporters in the Mayoralty election.

Simon, in the US signature requirements vary from state to state, and within a state, vary with the office and whether the party is established or new. In Illinois, for example, the basic requirement is 300 signatures of registered voters (NOT necessarily voters who are registered with that party) for a state representative (whose voting district is about twice as populous as the average parliamentary seat). Basically, the threshold signature requirement for an election in a body the size of London would be a few hundred to a few thousand--and the signatures would have to be of registered voters, not necessarily Tory party members, living in London. In the US the nomination petitions are filed with the government, and anyone can sue to challenge the legality of the petitions and knock the nominee off the ballot (this to prevent candidates from forging signatures on his/her petitions). Set the signature requirement too high and you make it too onerous for candidates to get on the ballot--too low, and "joke" candidacies are encouraged. Personally, I'd advise a legal threshold of less than 1000. The practical threshold will be much higher, since the sensible candidate will in practice wish to file twice that many signatures, in order to ensure he/she won't be thrown off the ballot.

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