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« Times and IDS oppose MPs deciding next Conservative leader | Main | Norman Tebbit backs rule changes but seeks faster change to leader »


James Hellyer

Well, this sounds like it was a delightful meeting! The coverage on this morning's Today Programme said that MPs were complaining that they were being presented with this as a fait d'accompli. Perhaps they now realise how the membership feels...

"Mr Monbiot also compared the party activists to spectators at a football match. Spectators don't choose their football team's manager, he said, and neither should grassroots Tories choose their party leader."

It seems that Mr Monbiot isn't too good at picking appropriate similes (unless of course the football team he was thinking of was Wimbledon!).

Other than that, the key problem with the spectators' analogy is that it sees the membership solely as a passive revenue stream.

However, party members don't just watch, that participate. Mr Monbiot might remember that rather a lot of us spent the weeks and months prior to the general election door knocking, delivering leaflets, canvassing and doing all the other things that helped return more Conservatives to parliament.

Presumably he expects members to continue doing this, even though the party leadership is clearly sending us a message. That message is "we don't care what you're thinking."

Peter Littleton

It is rather interesting to note that the main reason the leadership seems to have for removing the membership's voting rights is that we are unrepresentative of Britain at large. Their solution, of course, is to pass the power to that most proportional and representative body - the Conservative Parliamentary Party!

The final part that the membership is permitted to play is then granted to the Party Chairmen, which is even less representative than the Parliamentary Party.

When will our leadership realise, that while we may not be the most representative group in the Party, the grass roots is probably more representative of potential Conservative voters than any other group in the Party.

Finally, they blame us for electing IDS. Well, what did they expect? Ken Clarke is a formidable politician, but as an avid pro european he was never going to be chosen. Quite rightly in my view. To have done so would have re opened old wounds over Europe and set us back 10 years!

Sean Fear

The proposal is that the Convention be expanded to include Deputy Chairmen and Council Group Leaders. It would therefore be slightly more representative of party members as a whole than the current convention.

Nonetheless, there is no logic to accept, OTOH, that the voluntary party must have a say in electing the leader, but then to remove the right of individual members to play any part in the process?

Why should an association that has 100 members, and a couple of Conservative councillors, be granted the same say as one that has 1000 members, and 25 Conservative councillors? Why should the right to participate in the process be given to just a handful of individuals, rather than the membership as a whole?

The fairest way of involving the voluntary party is one member one vote.

James Hellyer

The consultation paper ("A 21st Century Party") is now up on

It makes fascinating and often unintentionally funny reading.

The section on electing the party leader contains the following gem: it condemns the current rules as "causing maximum uncertainty and disruption." So nothing at all like the current situation then!

In fact there is very little in this document to admire. Constituencies are largely stripped of power (with fewer choices where candidates are concerned) and MPs are gagged by the code of conduct. Everyone loses out - except the leadership who centralise all major powers.

This isn't a document from people who welcome new ideas, it's a document by people who want to emulate ZaNu Labour.

This is a manifesto for a centralised, control freak party, that will firmly anchor (or sink itself) on the soggy middle ground.

Fortunately it invites responses from the membership. I for one will submit a stringent response.

Prudence Dailey

Bernard Jenkin for leader! His Telegraph piece was brilliant.

Michael McGowan

It is a striking indication of how much Chairman Maude and his fellow "modernisers" are in thrall to Tony Blair that they have done a Blair in terms of how they wish to run the Conservative Party. Their plans can be summed up in three words: Stalinism with aromatherapy.

Those who put in countless hours of unpaid work for those jokers should make quite clear to the new Chairman and his cronies that if they go down this road, they can expect an outbreak of Blaenau Gwent syndrome in constituencies which they complacently regard as safe seats.

Robin M

Michael Howard's leadership, post GE has brought us to uncertain ground.

On one hand there is a call for a debate on conservatism; given its head, this may lead to the natural emergence of a leader who can best articulate it.

On the other, we are pestered by media and malcontents into looking for the leader who will produce a "vision" for all our conservative tomorrows.

The result is an unseemly "beauty parade"; the contestants jostling and elbowing for our attention, offering inoffensive platitudes about wanting to "travel, work with children and see peace in the world" in place of debate.

Force the debate, Michael.

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