The Sulking Conservatives
The local Conservative association in Windsor is currently in the process of selecting their prospective parliamentary candidate; after their sitting MP (a Conservative) was expelled for having improperly claimed £90K in expenses.
During the initial stages of the selection process the association has to decide who, out of the people who have put their names forward, should go through to the next stage.
The association received a large number of applications including one from Sir Malcolm Rifkind; who was a cabinet minister during past Conservative administrations, and an MP until losing his seat at the last election.
He is a most capable politician, and has a keen intellect (a rarity amongst the political classes). He is, to my view, exactly the sort of man that the Conservative Party should be desperate to employ on their lack lustre front bench.
The Windsor Conservatives selected 46 candidates to go forward to the next stage of the selection process, Sir Malcolm’s name did not appear on the list.
Why did this happen?
Were there 46 candidates who outshone Sir Malcolm? Indeed, if this were the case, the Conservatives should consider themselves truly blessed.
Unfortunately, if reports are to be believed, Sir Malcolm’s exclusion was not based on a hard nosed assessment of his abilities; but in fact the good old fashioned pomposity, and pig-headedness, of the selection committee.
It appears that during an interview with a local paper, Sir Malcolm had said that he hadn’t yet decided if he would move to Windsor. The committee, instead of talking this through with him during the selection process, gave way to the knee jerk reaction of wounded pride and, like a sulking teenager, turned their back on him.
This sorry little tale shows that the Conservative Party is still in massive sulk about losing the last two elections. It has not grasped the fundamental point, that they need to field quality candidates in the next election; not second raters who acquiesce to the single issue prejudices of the over sixties, who run the local associations.
There are two solutions:
Lessen the power of the local associations in the selection process.
Wait for the local membership to die of old age.
I suspect that the latter is more likely to happen, rather than the former.