Scott fails to win his local party's support

Former Cabinet minister faces the end of his political career
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The Independent Online
The career of Sir Nicholas Scott, the former Cabinet minister, appeared to stutter to a halt last night when the executive council of his local Conservative association declined to endorse him as their candidate for the next election.

Sir Nicholas, MP for Chelsea, was helped to his hotel by police in Bournemouth at last month's Tory conference after being found in the street after an Irish Embassy reception. He said he had had two glasses of wine, which had reacted with painkillers he was taking for a back injury.

Andrew Dalton, chairman of the Chelsea Tory association, said after a special meeting of its executive council that it had been "unable to endorse a motion of confidence in Sir Nicholas Scott as their prospective parliamentary candidate".

He said Sir Nicholas had asked to speak to a general meeting of all 3,000 Tory party members in the constituency to put his case to continue as their MP. Mr Dalton agreed to the meeting, expected later this month. A furious Sir Nicholas sped away from the association headquarters, refusing to comment on the decision.

His career as an MP seemed doomed, as he was only narrowly chosen as the candidate for the redrawn constituency earlier this year. At the time he was facing charges of drink-driving after briefly trapping a three- year-old boy in a parking shunt accident after a party.

A few days later he was banned from driving for a year and fined for failing to stop after an accident.About 100 members of the executive council filed out of last night's meeting, which lasted around an hour and a quarter, most refusing to speak to waiting journalists.

But Adrian Fitzgerald, a Tory councillor for Kensington and Chelsea, when asked if he would support Sir Nicholas, replied: "Certainly not." If he is forced to stand down, it will put an end to one of the more elaborate conspiracy theories of modern politics, in which Sir Nicholas would keep the seat warm for Chris Patten, former Tory chairman, intimate of the Prime Minister and Governor of Hong Kong. On this theory, John Major would cling to the Tory leadership after election defeat next year until Mr Patten, who lost his Bath seat at the last election, could return to the Commons.