Primed for power
AN American-style primary in which all voters would be eligible to take part may be used in Fenland to find a candidate to replace Malcolm Moss as MP for NE Cambs. A major venue – possibly a sports hall – could be used to stage a political hustings in wh
AN American-style primary in which all voters would be eligible to take part may be used in Fenland to find a candidate to replace Malcolm Moss as MP for NE Cambs.
A major venue - possibly a sports hall - could be used to stage a political hustings in which all short-listed candidates get the chance to speak and answer questions.
A simple 50 per cent majority of those attending - and that could include any pre-registered voter as well as Conservative Party members - will decide who gets the nomination.
The revolutionary new selection process, being trialled in other parts of the country, may be used in NE Cambs and provide a monumental hurdle for short-listed candidates to overcome.
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The battle to replace Mr Moss, who held the seat at the last election with a 9,000 vote majority, began on Monday at a special executive meeting of the NE Cambs Conservative Association.
The meeting produced the first surprise of the campaign when association chairman Robert Sears failed to turn up, signalling in advance his intention to capture the nomination.
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Mr Sears, a former Fenland district councillor, told me he was "certainly considering" throwing his hat in the ring, adding to the list of local candidates already announced.
Three local councillors have already announced their intention to stand, Simon King, Martin Curtis and Alan Melton, but a fourth, Jonathan Farmer, has ruled himself out of the reckoning. Strongly fancied as a contender, however, is Councillor Vicky Ford from South Cambs.
But the quartet of local names will face formidable opposition since the association may opt to invite all 800 approved candidates on the Conservative Party books to apply for one of the safest Parliamentary seats in the country.
Alternatively, the local executive may opt for selecting only from the party's A list, but that could still offer a formidable choice of 150 potential candidates.
Executive committee members will help whittle down the list of potential candidates to about six who could go onto the showdown primary.
"Nothing is going to happen until after the party conference," one senior official told me. "We have to assume that there is not going to be an immediate election, but the consensus seems to be that we should have a local person to represent us."
The local executive has several selection options available but it's unlikely they will go one possible route of selecting from an all-female list, even though they may be pressured to do just that.