Lamont rejected by Vale of York Tories

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The Independent Online
Norman Lamont was told by Tory supporters yesterday that Tony Blair would stand more chance of being selected as the Tory candidate for the Vale of York than the former Chancellor.

The Labour leader may be less than flattered to have their support but the Tories in the rock-solid Conservative seat do not want Mr Lamont, 53, at any price, it seems.

The former Chancellor is hunting for a safe Tory seat because his constituency at Kingston upon Thames will disappear in boundary changes. It had been thought he had his eye on the York seat, but that option was effectively closed to him because of his disloyalty to John Major.

Mr Lamont, who turned against Mr Major, after his sacking from the Treasury, was touted as a right-wing challenger to the Prime Minister for the Tory leadership election on 4 July. He was overtaken by John Redwood and never threw his hat into the ring.

But the threat to stand was enough for the Tories in the Vale of York. Michael Bilton, chairman of Stillington branch of the Vale of York Conservative Association, said party members had been turned off by Mr Lamont's display of disloyalty to the Prime Minister.

"Tony Blair has more chance of being selected than Norman Lamont," he said.

"There are quite a lot of people who would not wish to see Mr Lamont the candidate here. I don't think he's been very helpful in terms of supporting the Prime Minister.

"Most Conservatives don't like washing their dirty linen in public. We like to keep quiet about things. We're not a very vociferous crowd."

A vote among local party members during the Tory leadership election came out 56 to six in favour of backing the Prime Minister.

"John Major is extremely popular amongst the grass roots. They think he's a decent guy," said Mr Bilton.

Labour is keeping up a summer tally of Tory MPs on the "chicken run" from seats made marginal by boundary changes to safer constituencies.