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James Maskell

Well, if the powers that be try to circumvent democracy, what can you expect?

What will the British people think if the main Party of Opposition is stopping its own members from deciding who should lead them?

The idea of having the MPs choose since they know the candidates best is irrelevant. There is enough information about for the people of the Conservative Party to make a decision. It doesnt matter whether the high command like the decision or not. You have to respect people's right to choose freely.

The party is owned not just by the MPs but by every person who pays for their membership and plays an active role in the Party. Activists who put their blood, sweat and tears into fighting for their Party are due a vote. Taking it away from them is like slapping them in the face. Im not happy at all about this situation and I dearly hope the Constitutional College decide to retain democratic choice for the members of the party.

Selsdon Man

The anti democracy forces should remember that it is the members who will pay off a large chunk of the Party's huge debts. The associations hold the key to dealing with the party's finances. Take away their votes and they may ask for their "soft" loans to be repaid. That would put the Party in deep financial trouble.

An interesting question is whether MPs who support democracy will be subject to pressure from the Whips when the constitutional convention meets.

Michael McGowan

Good point. Associations should be calling in their loans from Central Office sooner rather than later unless there is a categorical promise of a proper democratic role for members. No "taxation" without representation.

James Hellyer

So either we vote to give the MPs all the power or they'll take it anyway. Right...



James Hellyer

Are you saying our MPs are natural centralisers?

Dave J

"Many suspect, however, that MPs might ignore a rejection of the proposals and simply organise their own MPs-only election anyway. There would be a contest and then the winner would be approved unanimously in the kind of 'vote of approval' that saw Michael Howard become Tory leader."

I suspect there would be a court challenge to this if it happened, which is absolutely the last thing anyone should want. Indeed, were I a British rather than an American lawyer, I'd be happy to take such a case pro bono, so I doubt there's any shortage of those who could and would.


There was no challenge to the Howard decision. If MPs unite around one candidate I think it would be constitutional. The legal issues would arise if a dissenting small minority insisted upon a nationwide ballot. The legal rights to have a ballot would likely be overwhelmed by other pressures. That dissenting group would be subject to enormous pressures, for example, to get into line and get behind the new leader/ get on with the job of opposing Labour/ avoid the expense of a nationwide ballot of all members etc etc.

James Hellyer

"If MPs unite around one candidate I think it would be constitutional."

There was the question of whether the Howard decision was constitutional. However by letting it slide, it has created a precedent.

Selsdon Man

Under the existing rules, there is a process in place. Candidates must be nominated. If the MPs then have a ballot with more than one candidate, the top 2 go forward to the membership ballot.

The only way to have a winner by proclamation is to have only one candidate nominated, as happened with Howard. Any change can be challenged in court.

Unless all the candidates withdraw, the MPs can only regain control if the constitutional convention approves the changes. I think that the vote will be close and that the proposed change could fail. What happens then?

James Maskell

If the Constitutional College doesnt approve the changes according to the rules (that is two thirds vote Yes), the leadership contest will be held with all members of the party under the current rules. Thats my understanding of the situation. Im not sure if the changes will go through with the two thirds majority. Its likely the simple majority will occur but the two thirds, Im not so sure. Not that Id be sad about it though.


If the CC votes against the change and the MPs ignore it, I see little hope for the party for a long time. We need to be mobilising our supporters not antagonising them.

If the CC backs an MPs only vote I'll accept it, but I don't like it. AMs, MSPs, MEPs won't even get a vote. And as has been stated repeatedly on this site 17 women will get a vote, one Scottish representative, three Welsh. No one from the target seats such as Cheltenham or Taunton. The leadership contest has already dragged on too long, if the CC vote no, then I don't see an extra couple of months causing a problem.

James Maskell

You've hit the nail there AnotherNick. We may not like the decision made but we must respect the fact that that particular path has been taken, whichever path that may be. There are over a thousand people making the decision and they are representatives of the country's Conservatives.

The most important thing is that a proper leader is elected who can represent the entire party and which the entire party can have faith in. But it must be done properly and fairly.

Richard Allen

I don't think that MP's could engineer a single candidate this time round (if the existing rules are retained). Even if they hold an informal MP's only vote the losing candidate could still enter the official contest and force a ballot of the membership. I'm sure that DD for one would definately do so if such circumstances came about

Selsdon Man

"If the Constitutional College doesnt approve the changes according to the rules (that is two thirds vote Yes), the leadership contest will be held with all members of the party under the current rules."

James, you are right on the rules. However, if the CC rejects the changes, I doubt whether MPs or CCHQ will go-ahead with a membership under the current rules. If it close, it is likely that the CC will be asked to vote again, perhaps on an electoral change or another option. This could drag the leadership election into next year.

As I said in an earlier post, there ought to be a Plan B for when CC meets in September.

Wat Tyler

Selsdon Man- you're probably right. If the Convention rejects the change, those rascals will follow standard EU procedure and make it vote again.

Personally, I'd like us to stick with the current voting system, but to avoid further prolonged bloodshed, I agree we need a Plan B- the electoral college option.

James Maskell

According to the BBC (so take it as you will), if the CC doesnt pass the changes with the two thirds majority, the election will be held under the current mention of an electoral college for this election.

Selsdon Man

Wat, thanks for sorting my typo. Plan B must be an electoral college.

James, we are in unchartered waters - nothing can be taken as read!

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