Wednesday, August 02, 2006

On Monday night I took part in London's first ever American-style "open primary" meeting for a parliamentary candidate selection. We were choosing the candidate to fight Labour's Clive Efford in the Eltham constituency, and under the reforms to the selection process under David Cameron, the local party had the option of opening up the process to electors of all parties, rather than just a closed meeting of party activists.

The venue was the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham, and we had secured the services of former Defence Secretary-turned political commentator Michael Portillo to subject the three finalists to a TV-style interview on stage, followed by questions from the audience. It was pleasing to see the auditorium nearly full, with mainly Conservative-minded voters, but also some people from other parties or the undecided. We even had half of Greenwich's Liberal Democrat Councillors there (well, OK, so that does only amount to one person...). There was quite a lot of media interest too, with the BBC sending a TV crew, and journalists from the local and national press.

The three contenders were all excellent, and any one of them would have made a great candidate and MP- I take my hat off to all of them for their success in getting to the final round, and for subjecting themselves to the ordeal of such a public interrogation. They all did very well, but in the end the meeting chose David Gold, who I've known for several years and who, as a Lewisham resident who used to work in Woolwich, knows the area well. We can also both claim to have been Conservative modernisers from the start, having both contributed Chapters to "A Blue Tomorrow", published five years ago by a group of what would now be described as Cameroons.

David promised that his first meeting on Tuesday morning would be with an estate agent to buy a property in Eltham, and I look forward to campaigning with him between now and the next General Election to deliver that "Blue Tomorrow". It's great to have a candidate in place so early, and the evening proved that the experiment with involving the public in Parliamentary Primaries was a great idea, which I am sure will now be taken on by more and more Conservative associations.

1 comment:

The Last Boy Scout said...

Nigel, I agree with you totally, it was a good night, and the strongest of a good line up of candidates won the vote.

I somehow think i'll be joining on the campaign trail for David.