Cameron opens Tory candidate list

Conservative leader David Cameron said today he was opening up the party's candidate list to people with no previous involvement in the party but a commitment to public service.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show he said: "What I'm going to do today is I'm going to reopen the Conservative candidate list to anybody who wants to apply. They may not have had anything to do with the party before. But I'm saying, if you believe in public service, if you share our values, if you want to help us clean up politics, come and be a Conservative candidate. We want to open up the talent that is available."

Asked if he would expect such candidates to toe the party line he said: "I think that behind the anger about expenses there is also a deep concern about the way the whole of the way our politics and Parliament works.

"People think, hold on, I elect people who go to Parliament and they are told how to vote by the whips rather than according to their conscience."

But he added: "Politics is a team game. We have still got to play as a team, you have got to sign up to the package."

He said that a lack of scrutiny and Parliament passing too many laws resulted in voters feeling they have no control over the process.

"They want more control of politics and politicians. People want a Parliament they can be proud of but they want more control over their lives."

Mr Cameron said successful headteachers and small business men and women could be among those recruited.

"We've got to try and find them and persuade them to stand," he said.

"Right now I expect many people are saying 'I'm not going anywhere near this nest of vipers'.

"We've got to work hard at it because our politics really matters and this is an opportunity to do that."

His move comes amid signs that that the major parties are set to be heavily punished for the MPs' expenses scandal at the next election.

Polling suggests unprecedented interest among voters in independent candidates unaffiliated to the established parties.

A new umbrella group, Jury Team, has also been set up recently to assist independent candidates who want to stand for election.

Asked what he was looking for in potential candidates, Mr Cameron added: "Commitment to public service, they want to be an Member of Parliament, they think it's a worthwhile thing to do, and some experience they can bring with them."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he supported the idea of independent candidates challenging the established parties.

"I welcome, really welcome, a lot of independents now coming in, saying 'we are now going to challenge these party stooges and try to get Westminster with a completely fresh approach'," he told Sky News.

"I think what MPs should be are champions of their local community, with their feet firmly on the ground in their local community, able to represent in a grassroots way a community which has elected them.

"That's what I expect from Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors.

"And I think if new independent candidates throw down a challenge so that all politicians become better that has to be a good thing."