How far can party HQs control local parties?
If, as the betting odds seem to have suggested, the Tories have come second in today’s Bedford mayoral by election then one of the questions might be the role of the party HQ.
For in many ways the role of London has been like that within Labour over all-women short-lists. For the effect is the same – to take away from local party members the power to choose who should represent them.
I think that I am correct in saying that today’s election will be the first occasion when a Tory candidate selected at one of their “open primaries” has faced the electorate. The others will do so on general election day.
For it was this move that set the party, apparently, at war with itself resulting in some of the local stories that we have seen tonight.
It is certainly less than optimal when the main paper is reporting that “Senior Tories Predict defeat” before the ballots have closed.
Labour rode out its problems with the “all-women” agenda – will the Tories continue with their open primaries? My guess is that they probably will and just absorb the flak.