Ex-MP `crushed' by party

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Proposals to break up the Hendon North Conservative Association are directly related to a Commons revolt that embarrassed the Government before the election, Sir John Gorst, the former MP, protested yesterday.

The National Union of the Conservative Party decided last week that it was "minded" to expel the association following allegations of irregularities relating to membership, nomination of candidates, the appointment of an agent, and the retrospective use of pounds 19,000 from the party's property fund.

But Sir John, who embarrassed the last Government by voting against it in protest over broken promises relating to a local hospital, told The Independent: "If you can't muzzle and regiment an MP, then your only alternative is to undermine his constituency support, because you can crush him by undermining his power base.

Complaints against the management of the local party were brought to a head in October, after it expelled two women parliamentary candidates.