Tories in frantic effort to restore Norris to shortlist
Tuesday 14 December 1999
Supporters of the former transport minister lobbied a meeting of London Tories in an effort to rescue his campaign for the candidacy.
Mr Norris's chances received a boost when Michael Ancram, the party chairman, made clear the leadership would not oppose such a move. His comments came as senior Tories claimed the party was in danger of losing the only man who could beat Ken Livingstone or Frank Dobson.
Mr Norris was dropped by the Conservatives' 12-strong selection panel at the weekend. The panel decided to bar him after four senior party officials from his former Epping Forest constituency claimed they would have dropped him as MP because of his extra-marital affairs if he had not quit.
But Tory activists across London rallied to his defence yesterday and said they would overturn the decision at the meeting of the party's electoral college last night.
The electoral college, made up of the selection panel and representatives of the 74 London constituencies, met to interview the four remaining candidates, Andrew Boff, Baroness Miller, Baroness Hanham and Mark Kotecha. Norris supporters were expected to propose a motion to allow the shortlist to be increased to five, in effect allowing Mr Norris to take part in a hustings meeting tomorrow.
The hustings will narrow the field to two candidates before a one member, one vote ballot next month among the capital's 30,000 party members.
Mr Norris said yesterday that "dozens" of local party chairmen across London had telephoned to offer their support. His camp estimated that 40 out of the 74 local parties had pledged their backing.
"There is a real risk for the Tory party of forgetting what politics is about. Politics is about winning," Mr Norris said.
However, the flamboyant former MP upset several Conservative Central Office insiders when he made a savage attack on the "monstrous regiment" of women in his old constituency in an article in yesterday's London Evening Standard.
He singled out Di Collins, constituency chairman when he was MP and mother of the Tory party vice-chairman Tim Collins. He said she had tried to make life difficult for him following press disclosures about his extra- marital affairs. "She herself had been through a messy divorce and had seen her husband go off with a younger woman. Hardly surprising whose side she would take in my case," he said.
Earlier, Mr Ancram made clear that the constituency associations in London had to make the choice for themselves. "It's open to [last night's] meeting to consider what motions it deems to be appropriate and to take decisions on them," said Mr Ancram. "That is what democracy is about. And I'm sure [it] will be a democratic meeting."
But Mr Ancram declined to give a view on Mr Norris's merits, repeating William Hague's stance that he wanted as wide a field as possible.
"I have made it clear all along that who is in the race and who is eventually selected ultimately is a matter for the members in London, and I made it very clear that I wasn't going to express an opinion on that," he said.
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...
£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...