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"Our MEPs have increasingly worked effectively as a team...."

...for a European Superstate!

Who is this fool trying to kid?

The new rules exclude the membership because they cannot rank ALL candidates. It ignores the diabolical leadership of Kirkhopeless and the blatantly disruptive europhilia of Jackson, Beazley and co. and wishes to 'not start a war over Europe' by giving into the pro-europeans!

And worst of all, Cameron's agreed to all of this!


I suppose this website represents "unhelpful noises from the sidelines".

Why isn't this letter posted on conservatives.com? Why do all of these high-ups like Don Porter have to things secretly?

Well done for publishing it. No doubt the HQ apparachiks will whine but this was an important decision and the members have yet to be "told" about what was decided for them (as far as I know). Is it just me or is his tone a tad elitist with talk about "unhelpful distractions" etc?

"Members will be asked to rank ... new candidates" yeah, as long as the new candidates aren't women - 'cos we pleb members can't be trusted to place them high enough.

The arrogance of Mr Porter is breathtaking. The members on "the sidelines" give everything voluntarily to a party that wants them frozen out.

This website provides fascinating insights of of our political system notwithstanding its conservative locus.

Where else would I read the sentence "I am therefore asking you to help me quieten down unhelpful noises from the sidelines." What does this mean and what does it tell us?

Unless Im interpreting that wrong, it means shut the hell up and let Cameron and co do what they want... I think hes suggesting that no one go to the press, unfavourable headlines and all.

To be honest Ive not seen many negative headlines in the press about the Tories so Im guessing the worries is about us in the grassroots.

The noise on this issue started when the Party Board DECIDED to meet before the May elections.

Which bright spark decided that timetable?

Statements praising the MEPs working as a team are just spin and insult the intelligence of Members who know otherwise.

"unhelpful noises from the sidelines".The damned cheek of the man.It's the Supporters who normally take up position on the sidelines,he needs to let us know if we should all start to move.I'm almost ready to do so.

He ruins his missive with words about 'unhelpful noises'. In a democratic party that is mostly staffed by volunteers you have to win battles by force of argument not by urging people to 'quieten down'.
After witnessing disgraceful interviews with Macmillan-Scott and Caroline Jackson within the last 12 months I would also take issue with the 'working effectively as a team' comment. Perhaps he should have started that sentence with 'some of our MEPs....

I have to agree with the views expressed so far. This statement really is patronising rubbish. Voice from the sidelines are the members who keep the party going (in the belief of democracy). The timing is a stitch up and the idea that 'all our MEP's are working in a team' is frankly baffling.

I don't believe that I have ever stooped to swear words on CH so this is a first but I am forced to say in response to that missive what a load of total bollocks.

I would also point out that it was the Board's decision to deal with this matter now, just before the local elections, and now we can see why. So that when presented with the inevitable explosion of anger amongst the membership they could then hide behind the pathetic "don't do anything to cause an upset because of the local elections" scam. That is just not good enough and it is sadly apparent that we cannot trust the Board to look after our interests, only those of the totally unrepresentative "in crowd".

Why bother to work for a party that no longer shares the polotical views or the belief in democracy of its grass roots activists?

At this rate, it won't be long before this particular source of "unhelpful noises from the sidelines" walks out of the stadium.

Why does anyone care that "Caroline Abel-Smith [is] fully behind the Board’s decision and why should any process be conducted "in liaison with Caroline Abel-Smith"?

Who elected Caroline Abel-Smith?

More like unhelpful noises from the centre I'd say. Why fundamentally alter a system that worked quite well enough the last two times? So, here's some more helpful noises from me.

One way to de-rail this would be for all the Regional Selection Colleges to vote down all the incumbents in the secret ballot at their meeting. [The letter says "In the eventuality of an incumbent candidate not getting 50% + 1 at the RSC the candidate has the opportunity of inviting the members to rank them on the new candidate ballot paper".] Thus they would then all have to go into the ballot of the full membership with the new candidates. A side effect of that would be that if you are a woman incumbent you might well be automatically promoted to top of the list and, if there is no woman incumbent, a new woman would be top of the poll ahead of the incumbents. But, hell, we didn't invent these problems did we, and if there are presently all-male MEPs in a region and they are all standing again, maybe it's right that the least popular only gets back if we increase our vote?

I wonder if the Rules take account of sex changes (sorry, gender reassignment)? There might still be time...

I'd love it if a transgendered person tried that Londoner! How could they refuse? It would expose the sheer superficiality of this "diversity" agenda.

To rephrase Thomas Jeffersons dictum as quoted by The Freedom Association ( very impressed with Roger Helmers appointment)

" When the Board is in fear of the Members you have liberty - When the members are in fear of the Board you have tyranny"

Will someone please call a porter and have Don Porter and his "unhelpful noises" escorted to the exit? The Board's decision is outrageously anti-democratic. I am also horrified to learn that this edict has the support of Mr "Trust the People" Cameron. Has the man no shame,no self-respect? The contempt he has for the rank and file members (who put him where he is)is, in my case, fully reciprocated.

What a terrible mistake we made in electing this man to be our Leader. It reminds me of the old song we used to sing to the tune of 'The Red Flag': "The working class can kiss my arse, I've got the foreman's job at last."

Mr Porter's profile is on conservative.com:

Quite a silly email from Mr Porter - he really ought to have known someone would leak it... He is right in so far as there should be no noise on this issue until after the local elections, thereafter plenty of noise!

The email does offer a very interesting prospect. Sitting MEPs who believe in party democracy simply have to ask the regional college to vote against them. If they deselect all incumbent MEPs, then all the candidates (with the exception of the token female if there is no sitting female MEP) have to be ranked by the party membership.

I should add that it occurs to me that if Martin Callanan doesn't stand again (he is on the parliamentary A list) the North East will have no choice but to have a female Conservative MEP...

Selection issues aside the lack of hustings is very disappointing and will remove the opportunity for genuine scrutiny of those standing.

May be we should ask the Editor what Cameron asked Mr Blair today "can we have an independent leak inquiry" into how the editor got this information.

would also point out that it was the Board's decision to deal with this matter now, just before the local elections

I don't know about that, Matt - perhaps they just thought they were dealing with an adult membership who could handle more than one ongoing issue at a time, which I'd like to believe is still true. Some of us can walk and chew gum.

Nobody outside the Party cares that much, I don't think. It's not a story unless insiders make it one, and I'd have hoped we're all too busy getting Conservative councillors elected to do that anyway...

There's no one ideal system for candidiate selection, especially over an area as large as the EP regions. In the longer term I'd like to see EP selections widened outside the Party to mirror the changes in Westminster selections in the last couple of years, and I'd be interested in specific ideas to make that happen.

Don Porter's focus on the current campaign is quite right, and in fact laudable - I don't appreciate unhelpful, off-message noises from colleagues while I'm in the middle of trying to win seats either! Let's get the job done first and foremost.

I would just like to echo Richard Carey's well put comments on this matter.

"would also point out that it was the Board's decision to deal with this matter now, just before the local elections"

A good time to bury bad news?

Sorry Richard Carey & Scotty but you are completely missing the point and playing directly into the hands of those who would deprive you of any meaningful say in the party that we all work so hard for.

In my Borough we are right now fighting a Council By Election (polling day is tomorrow) and personally I have been campaigning almost every night and every Saturday for many weeks past now. That as well as fulfilling my duties as a Councillor and Area Officer of the party. So one way and another I have almost no time left to have a life of my own and I do that because I believe in something and that something is the need for a conservative (yes with a small c) government.What however is the point of winning Conservative seats if in fact we are then going to be told to go away, shut up and leave the decision making to our "betters", especially when those betters turn out not to be conservative at all and prepared to throw away any semblance of party democracy along with anything that approaches being an actual principle, in order to keep their undeserving mates on the publicly funded gravy train.

Sorry guys I've said it before but I'm going to say it again; this isn't football supporting, it isn't a matter of "my party right or wrong" and lots of forelock tugging. To give up all that I do for this party I need to know that I am doing it for conservative progress, not LibDem progress, and that the party values our efforts and opinions more than it does LibDem voting focus groups, which, as this sad and sorry stitch up show most clearly it does not.

I agree Matt. This is certainly not a democratic way to run a Party. They seem to forget that they owe their positions to the grassroots who do all the donkey work to get them elected.

@Matt Davis
I think you are missing the point. Richard Carey and Scotty are defending Mr. Porter. I don't think these proposals will deprive *them* of a say in selecting MEPs, only the rest of us.
Extending the franchise outside the Party as Richard Carey wants means he is happier trusting BNP and Labour voters to chose Conservative candidates, than he is trusting Conservative party members to do so. That de haut en bas arrogance cannot be bought except with a very large parental cheque to the Bursar at Eton. And these Etonians do tend to stick together or so I've heard

Richard Carey @ 22.05 "Don Porter's focus on the current campaign is quite right, and in fact laudable - I don't appreciate unhelpful, off-message noises from colleagues while I'm in the middle of trying to win seats either!"

Excellent point, Richard. So which clown decided it was vital to hold the Board decision now?

Jonathan said "And these Etonians do tend to stick together or so I've heard".

I've read Mr Porter's profile linked above and, although it does not give his school, it looks unlikely that he is an Old Etonian.

Has he identified lots of Old Etonians on the party Board? If neither is the case, what does Jonathan therefore mean? Although I agree with Jonathan on this party democracy issue, it's pathetic to see "Etonian conspiracy". I might remind him that one of the first stirrings of democracy in the party was the parliamentary party electing the leader - rules devised by Humphrey Berkeley MP, Old Etonian. It is also one of the few schools I have heard of where the prefects are chosen by a form of election. Hey ho.

Oh I think we can assume Don Porter is no Etonian. I was refering more to the Leaders office and the back room function at CCHQ where from all accounts, it is impossible to chuck a half brick these days without hitting an OE.

Of the twin theories, the cock up and the conspiracy, on which all historical exegesis is based, it is almost solely the cock up theory which proves to be valid. That said there's an awful lot of conspiracy - just not very abley carried out.

So another round of EU elections in prospect where a goodly proportion of Conservative activists will canvas for the Conservatives but vote UKIP in the secrecy of the ballot box.

Having had to retreat in the face of the facts from the assertion in the Guardian etc that the whole front bench is "stuffed" with OEs, and being unable to make a case that the Board is (which is after all the body which made the decision here), now apparently CCHQ is, in the "back room" (so it is near impossible to refute). I just find it rather unlikely as OEs generally prefer more gainful employment. Play the man, not his school.

It is far from clear to me that Cameron is likely to have been the initiator of this - much more likely to have been the same people who in 2005 wanted to cut us out of the leasdership election. It does not take Etonian disdain, believe me, for the party at the centre to want to cut out us footsoldiers from any influence. They have been doing it since the 1970s, having their most notable triumph under Hague (oh yes, he must have been under Etonian command, I forgot).


I am now a bit confused on this but you appear to know everything. Does Dave Cameron have more Etonians, other ex-public schoolboys and girls, Oxbridge grads, and former members of the Bullingdon in his shadow cabinet or in his entourage of advisers and close supporters than anyone else might have.

Bill1215 - the answer to your question in three words, one one has got over the natural two word response ("so what?") is: "almost certainly not".

That is not because I know everything, but merely because whenever I challenge those who keep claiming that various things going on are all to do with massive numbers of Old Etonians I find that such "facts" dissolve into proven myths pretty quickly.

Incidentally the success rate in General Elections of all the non-Etonian male leaders since the previous one stood down in 1965 has been 6-2 against, not startlingly successful. Immediately before that, the score of Eton/Harrow leaders between 1951 and 1964 was 3-1 in favour.

Another thing I do know if that Ted Heath's cabinet at one time was about 50% Old Etonian and that Mrs T often had more than Cameron presently has (3 in the Commons - Letwin, Swire and himself).

You may be right on the Bullingdon Club - so far as I know the only member of any Shadow Cabinet ever who has been known to have been a member is Cameron himself. So that puts Cameron equal first with Michael Howard on that one.

The point of all this is that if presumed Conservatives keep repeating these Etonian myths, and go unchallenged, the left will start to believe their own propaganda. The amusing thing is that it is probably more of a liability now to be Scottish than to be Etonian...so they may be barking up the wrong tree. Free advice to the Guardian and Labour MPs: why don't they shock us by revealing the Scottish connections of the Cameron team.


Thanks for your response even though it is inadequate. If you cannot see why people find this sort of narrow privilege not only discomforting but potentially deleterious, so be it.

As for the Bullingdon you might find this link useful.


Could I ask a couple of questions? What is the possibility of rejecting the incumbent MEPs (and we all kknow who they are) if they want to stand again? Does the 50% + 1 mean that we actually do get a say in whether they stand again, as part of a cunning plan, after all?

But the 50% +1 is in the "Regional Selection College", not all members.

bill1215 - OK, so George Osborne was a member of the Bullingham Club too. I note that one of his fellows in your Daily Mail linked article founded Ocado - so one can go on to a useful life afterwards. The fact that Cambridge doesn't have a Bullingham Club may be a point in favour of my own University. But, just like Oxford, it contained all types, very few having anything to do with that sort of thing.

But I stand by my point that there is no reason to believe that the Party is any more Eton etc "dominated" than in the past. If I have the patience I may do some research on past Cabinets and Shadow Cabinets to let this site know.

It's great that a wider background of people are becoming candidates as in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph - but a smattering of people from the traditionally educated upper middle classes is just maintaining the balance. And constantly harping on about it as if the most important thing about Cameron is that he went to Eton just plays into the hands of our opponents because if we as Tories think it matters then the public might start to wonder. At the moment a 10% personal lead over Brown makes it look unlikely that a public school background is regarded by the public as a negative (as Blair's electoral success also demonstrated).

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