Politics: Millionaire in Tory ballot protest

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The Independent Online
A Yorkshire multi-millionaire is to stage a one-man protest at the Tory party conference in Blackpool today. Dr Peter Gregory who was rejected a pass to the conference by his local association in Skipton, North Yorkshire, is furious at the way the leadership ballot, confirming William Hague, has been organised.

He is determined that the time is right for the party to be reformed. With this in mind, he founded the Conservative Democratic Movement splinter group two weeks ago and claims to have 30 members. He will spend the next three days trying to muster support for his challenge to the ballot.

Dr Gregory, 41, who earned millions of pounds from the sale of his family "Medacs" medical equipments business last year, has been a party member for seven years. Although it is highly unlikely that he will get into the conference today, when the ballot result is announced, but he is intent on causing trouble, talking to the media, MPs and trying to persuade them that a fresh mandate as a leader elected on a one-man one-vote platform is needed within a year or so.

He condemned the ballot, in which only around one-third of members are thought to have taken part, as wholly inadequate. "The ballot itself is an abuse of the loyalty of the party members," said Dr Gregory.

He criticised the principle of Mr Hague's reforms package saying that the members will never democratically elect their leader, and argued that democratic election is essential to rebuild the Conservative Party..

"We think that this is about time that the party members stop going cap in hands and asking for a share of vote for the leadership ..." said Dr Gregory. He was contemptuous of the absence of any alternative candidates in the ballot, which is designed to extract the wider party's endorsement of Tory MPs' choice of Mr Hague as a leader and his package of reforms. - Gayane Afrikian