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« Liam Fox’s human rights message aims to restore Tory links with White House | Main | Fox shines at meeting with socially conservative MPs »



Wow! Michael Gove! I would never have expected it of him. Does this mean that both Cameron and Davis want a proper contest? That would be fantastic,

a) because it is more democratic and better preparation for leadership and

b) because it buries the 'legacy' of the dreadful Michael Howard

Of course the cynical might suggest that Gove supports this only because Cameron has little chance of winning among the MPs and this at least gives him an outside shot.


Ed Vaizey is also a supporter of David Cameron. All the brightest and youngest MPs are.

Wat Tyler

Good for these new boys. Abolishing one member one vote would be a tragic step backward for our party. Arguments need to to be won through debate, not by rigging the rules.

(It's a shame about Ed Vaizey falling behind Cameron. I had great hopes that he might do that 'Davis jump' that M d'Ancona talked about in May. Osborne and Cameron clearly aren't going to, but I thought Vaizey could have done himself a lot of good for the longer term by giving Davis some support now).


I didn't mean 'wow' Gove supports Cameron - that was obvious, and no suprise at all. I meant 'wow', Gove supports members' democracy. That is a big surprise.

Graeme Archer

How many of you spend your time in local associations? I can't think of anything more ridiculous than putting the leadership of the party into the hands of the various freaks (guilty), obsessives (guilty) and downright unpleasant (you decide).

Like many I suspect, I've had various lie-in-the-bath-oh-god-why-do-I-do-this moments during the decades in the party. One was clause 28, and another particularly vivid memory was during the hustings in Harlow at the IDS vs Ken Clarke election. I've never heard more unpleasant attitudes than I did that night - one of the esteemed members told me I was "degenerate" because I liked the Clarke speaker. You cannot seriously believe that putting the vote into these hands would help improve our votability.

I'm sure that Michael Gove's views are affected by the no doubt lovely people who work in Surrey South West. Though I also remember the south west London tories I met at Excel in docklands just before the election (at the Howard rally). They had never been on the tube before and thought it hilarious the amount of effort their lib dem opponents were putting into canvassing.

I think someone's used the word "selectocracy" and that sums it up. OMOV would be fine were we in the 1950s and a mass membership party. It's lunacy with the local associations in the state that they are. Primary elections to select candidates, and MPs selecting the parliamentary leader - please.

Sean Fear

I don't share your loathing for my fellow party members, Graeme. Like the electorate at large, they're a mixture of the good, the bad and the indifferent. Their main fault, IMO, is the excessive degree of loyalty they show to those MPs and party officials who treat them with contempt.

I like the idea of a primary as well. Since that is not on the cards, I want those who keep the party going to have a say in the leadership election.

James Hellyer

"I think someone's used the word "selectocracy" and that sums it up. OMOV would be fine were we in the 1950s and a mass membership party."

I believe a selectocracy is a safe seat where the idfentity of the MP rests entirely with the selection committee.

In this case opening the vote to the party membership broadens the electorate. The party membership may not be terribly representative, but it is more representative than our MPs who are predominatly from the same background (white, middle aged barristers).

I think disenfranchising the membership would show that the party has no intention of ever appealing to a mass membership again because the party members would be mere party workers.

Graeme Archer

oh god apologies for posting without thinking - I didn't intend to suggest I loathed fellow party members. But I don't think they're suitably typical to be given the task of choosing the leader of the opposition. Will be more careful editorial wise in future. "Freak", "obsessive" and "downright unpleasant" applies only to myself.

Michael McGowan

Sean, I agree entirely with your comments about the rank-and-file members of the Party. One of the reasons why I left the Tory Party was that I was sick of being patronised by the self-perpetuating cabal of third-raters who make up much of the Tory Party at Westminster. I'm afraid to say that the words "freak", "obsessive" and "downright unpleasant", not to mention "bone idle", are more easily applied to a lot of Tory MPs than to the rank and file.

Adrian Owens


Thanks for your mea culpa regarding party members. They are of course a mixed bag, but they are as much the public face of the party as those at Westminster. Moreover, given our good results in local elections compared to those at parliamentary level, one could well argue they are more in tune with, and attractive to, the general public than our MPs.

It doesn't surprise me that new MPs are more concerned to ensure a continuing voice for members. They have had less time to forget the efforts of, or lose touch with, the grassroots.

Sean Fear

Fair enough Graeme. Anyone who gets involved in politics is by definition unrepresenative of the public; but then people who go into politics full time (as MPs or party officals) are likely to be even more unrepresentative.

The counter argument is that those who stand for Parliamentary elections are much more likely to choose the best candidate, because they want to win, as opposed to the membership. But in reality, plenty of them will vote on the basis of "X has promised me a job", "I've known Y for 10 years and can't stand him" or "Z's an idiot, but if I vote for him, he'll reach the run off against my preferred candidate, who'll win easily" and so on.

I do feel quite strongly now, that if we're good enough to give the party our time and money, we're good enough to participate in the leadership election.

William Norton

The comments so far on this thread reinforce my view that the reorganisation proposals are the wrong answer to the wrong question at the wrong time. Their real thrust is to (a) improve the flow of funds to the Centre [fair enough - assuming we're getting value for money]; and (b) eliminate what we'll call the old farts [not very democratic but I can see their point].

Unfortunately the proposals are not financially viable,will convert local associations into outsourced fund-raisers for CCHQ, will reduce overall campaigning and active membership and perversely risk leaving the old farts running larger local parties.

I think we could probably do better.


Of course the membership isn't representative. But most members do live and work in a 'normal' environment - that is, not Westminster. Have you ever listened in on two or three MPs gathered together, chatting in full flow? It can be a mind-blowing experience for the uninitiated. Such wonderful arrogance! Such belief in their own perspicacity!

But of course the real solution is to greatly broaden the membership. That target (which Hague aimed at and missed) is important for 2 reasons:

1) It will provide a better connection between MPs and the country

2) Just by aiming to create a mass membership again, it will force the party to confront its shortcomings, and the challenges of the modern world, in a completely new way. Quaint Notting-Hill theorising about what the modern world might be like would be replaced by pragmatic engagement with it.

Just imagine if Francis Maude were personally tasked with finding 100,000 members from the working classes or ethnic minorities. What would he do? Would he discard his laughable power-point presentations about urban chic, and actually talk to people in Milton Keynes?

Now do this little thought experiment: imagine those 100,000 new members existed - taken from communities not currently regarded as massively Tory-supporting (I don't mean young Maudite professionals in London - there just aren't that many of them). What would we have said or done to make them pay their subsciption fee? Can you answer that?

And the follow-up question: who would THEY vote for as leader?

EU Serf

Buxtehude is right. You don't grow the membership by ignoring the members and disenfranchising them.


Do we know if any of the leadership contenders have been helping out in Cheadle?

Nicky HN

Its claimed above the "Mods" like Gove and Vaizey oppose Howard's plans, despite having speech written and worked for him. What evidence is there for this? Is there a link to any press reports that can be provided, or is this just Duncan Smith's or John Hayes' conclusion on what they think?


Nicky - I assure you that this story is accurate. I can't provide you with background newspaper sources (as if they were 100% reliable) but I can tell you that Michael Gove spoke powerfully at the 1922 Committee about this issue and a continued direct say in the leadership for members and good for him, I say. Michael has also kindly spoken directly to me about his principled position.


Becker - I know David Cameron was in Cheadle today - I don't know about the others.

Nicky HN

Oh dear Editor, 'a continued direct say in the leadership for members'? And you've been gulled by this? No one I've spoken to who was at the 22 was. Gove wants the MPs to decide, and will affod a figleaf at most for the grass roots.

It's as simple as this, if you'e in favou of keeping the current, final say with the paty in the country, you'e against it. Michael Gove is, are you?

Nicky HN

Sorry, I'll try that again:

It's as simple as this, if you're NOT in favour of keeping the current, final say with the party in the country, you're against it. Michael Gove is, are you?


Will the vote of the MPs be voice/secret, or will they have to go on record one way or the other? It will be interesting to see how many MPs will vote to disenfranchise their own party members, an Alice-in-Wonderland step that no serious party should even be debating, let alone enacting. Whether it was wise for Hague to give party members the vote isn't the issue; the party members were enfranchised, and efforts to turn back the clock won't be viewed kindly by the public or the party rank and file.

James Hellyer

Becker, Liam Fox was also in Cheadle yesterday.

James Hellyer

"Will the vote of the MPs be voice/secret, or will they have to go on record one way or the other?"

It will have been a secret ballot. The only way to find out is to ask your MP how he voted.

Last time, mine voted to disenfranchise me and I expect he will have done so again.


Has David Davis been to Cheadle?

James Hellyer

If Davis has visited he's not namechecked on either the Cheadle Conservatives website or the BBC news coverage.

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