Often perceived as the only benefit of being a member of the Conservative Party is a vote in candidate nomination for the parliamentary seat.
I’ve exercised that benefit a few times over the years. Once to select a replacement for my MP, Enoch Powell, who resigned from the party shortly before the general election on 23rd February 1974. My memory is a bit hazy on the numbers, but I don’t recall there being more than 100 people, probably a lot less.
The current number of paid-up members of the Conservative Party is nowhere near what it was. How, therefore, is it possible to involve more people in candidate nomination. The solution is to use an open primary.
An open primary to nominate a candidate allows residents in a constituency, irrespective of party allegiance, to be involved in candidate nomination. Douglas Carswell MP and MEP Daniel Hannan have argued well of the benefit of holding open primaries.
It takes courage for constituency officers to relinquish a large degree of control over candidate nomination, as Tonbridge and Malling’s Conservative party agent Andrew Kennedy describes.
Rather than prattling on about the benefits of an open primary, you can read more about them from the experience of the one held yesterday at Tonbridge and Malling,
- The local press reports on the ‘Public to pick Tory candidate’.
- BBC’s South East politics editor reports on the process and candidates.
- Tim Luckhurst’s negative comment in BBC South East report is from a failed Labour candidate.
- Andrew Kennedy provides images from the Tonbridge and Malling open primary.
- Peter Franklin offers advice for open primary candidates, from Tonbridge and Malling’s experience.
- Finally, the superb party agent, Andrew Kennedy, compellingly sums up the experience.
What an advocate for modern democracy, trusting the people to decide.