Tim Montgomerie: Key test for Cameron's belief in localism

Share
Related Topics

The most important thing that happens today is that Liz Truss is confirmed as the candidate for South West Norfolk. Liz is exactly the kind of MP who will enrich the Commons: intelligent, an independent thinker, she doesn't come from a conventional Tory background but is nonetheless a champion of grassroots Conservatives. I hate to think how many good people have been discouraged from political service because of the intrusive public examination she has put up with over recent weeks.

The second most important thing is that Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) learns the correct lessons from this unhappy saga. Blaming sexism and unforgiving moralism will not do. The saga is more complex than traditionalism.

Members of mainstream parties have fewer and fewer rights in our increasingly centralised political system. New rules have prevented Tory party members from deselecting Europhile MEPs. The members' magazine has been scrapped. Attending party conference has become more expensive since they were moved from affordable seaside resorts to big cities. Michael Howard even mounted an unsuccessful bid to end the members' right to choose the party leader.

The right to select the local parliamentary candidate is one of the last rights available. Associations have been bullied by headquarters eager to hit artificial targets for female candidates. Selecting more women is important – but it would also be useful if the next parliamentary Conservative Party had more mathematicians and scientists and fewer lifetime politicians who never worked outside Westminster village. That would be real diversity.

Grassroots Tories get a raw deal from party chiefs and the media. In reality they have been adopting female candidates in almost exactly the same proportion (30 per cent) as CCHQ have been able to recruit women for the overall candidates list. If the Conservatives win the next election there should be at least 60 women Tory MPs. A good number of gay and ethnic minority candidates are also being adopted by the Conservative heartlands – challenging the caricature of the average Tory member.

Trust the people is a great Conservative belief. If Team Cameron trusted the membership in selection they wouldn't always get the candidate they wanted but it would be a good sign that they were serious about their commitment to localism.



The author is editor of the conservativehome website

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week