A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Totnes Tories in "open primary" contest

In what is claimed to be the first open primary in Britain, the voters of Totnes are being given the chance to vote for who may be the Conservative candidate at the next election. Three worthies have put their names forward. What I haven't been able to find out is if these three have been formally chosen by a panel of the Conservative Party. It would be nice to think that any Conservative member could put his or her name forward without being vetted beforehand. Then a prospective candidate could announce their intention of standing and mount a campaign. All three are local Devon people. Totnes voters may want that, but will this primary idea exclude those from neighbouring counties or further afield?

It would also be nice to feel that Totnes is not the only constituency to get this democratic honour. As for primaries in Britain, this is probably the first open one but it is not the first closed one. That honour went to Reigate in 1970 when a primary was held between Chris Chattaway and Geoffrey Howe. Chattaway went thataway and Howe won the day.


As a longtime GOP activist and former county chairman, I am dismayed to see Britain following US practice in this regard. While once I was a strong supporter of closed primaries limited to registered voters of the party, I have come to the conclusion that they are no longer justifiable in light of the very poor turnouts typically experienced.

Better to have candidates selected by party membership as done in all other democracies with political party structures.

Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada USA

the Totnes Conservative primary is
a welcome new development in British politics. However, there two large flaws. The first is that the primary is controlled by the same people who chose the last MP.
I would like to see the primary controlled by a Conservative
association that is, in turn, controlled by local Conservatives, not controlled by the Establish-ment, indirectly, by their agents within the local community.

The second flaw is that a thirty
minute speech is not enough to eva-
luate an applicant for the can- didacy, by far. I would like to suggest a primary selection process that will select a can-
didate who is honest, capable and
loyal to his constituency, not the
Establishment. To do this, form a
new political association. This
association will then advertise
for many applicants for the pos-
ition of primary candidate. The
association will then use rigorous
tests, including, most impotantly, psychological evaluation and inves- tigation to select the best appli-cant. For more details, see:

John Newell


I'm not so sure about the pyschological testing. Stanley Baldwin tried that on Winston Churchill, in a manner of speaking. Baldwin thought Churchill was a very dangerous man who had lost his marbles. Some marbles!

Two of the three (the EDDC council leader and Mayor of Torbay) have launched a personal attack on the Liberal Democrat PPC, the doctor from Dartmoor refused to get into personal attacks – I think she’ll win. The one problem is Liberals in the Totnes constituency are voting for Nick Bye in order to force his resignation as Mayor of Torbay (part of Torbay Borough is in Totnes constituency).

The question then is, if the mayor resigns, will the Liberals be happy if he becomes the MP?

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