Congratulations to the successful candidate in the Banbury selection this afternoon, Victoria Prentis.
Here’s her brief bio from our earlier write-up:
- Victoria Prentis. A barrister by profession, Prentis has worked for various arms of the government for the last 17 years and is currently head of the Justice and Security team. She is a Director of Transport Sense, an anti-HS2 campaign group and Chair of the Benefactor’s Board of the Oxford Children’s Hospital Trust. Born in Banbury and brought up in nearby Aynho, she now lives in Somerton. Her father is Tim (now Lord) Boswell, who was MP for Daventry from 1987 to 2010.
I’d imagine this selection will mean her departure from such a senior civil service role, which does show her dedication to the candidacy. Sir Tony Baldry won the seat in 2010 with a majority of 18,227 so it’s highly likely Victoria will be another new, female MP come 2015.
There’s a rather eyebrow-raising message about the selection posted on the North Oxfordshire Conservative Association website today:
‘Today the Banbury Constituency Conservative Party will select our candidate to replace Sir Tony Baldry. With a short list of 4 women one thing is certain, that the successful candidate will be a woman. However it really has been a missed opportunity to include the wider community. As a relatively safe seat the successful candidate is in all probability going to be the next MP. With this in mind it would have been a good to have given all the electors in the constituency the chance to influence the decision through an Open Primary as the party has done in other constituencies. It really has been a missed opportunity to have a candidate to appeal to the wider community. Hopefully we will make a good choice and members will vote for the best candidate. This does not necessarily have to be someone local of course and if that were the only criteria well the choice on offer is pretty lame. Only time will tell and not being allowed to vote I will just have to keep my fingers crossed that my fellow members make the right choice!’
It’s tagged “Councillor Dan Sames”, who is a councillor in Bicester – I haven’t been able to get hold of him to verify that he is definitely the author of the post but he has been tweeting along similar lines. It seems he applied unsuccessfully for the seat, and is now “not being allowed to vote” because of that application.
I happen to support primaries, and feelings do sometimes get hurt in the selection process, but sour grapes isn’t a very productive reaction to disagreement on the process or the outcome. It’s sad to see this response instead of rallying round the successful candidate – thought it’s a timely reminder that associations ought to be careful as to how they distribute their website passwords.
I’ve now spoken to the local agent in the constituency. He tells me:
- Prentis was selected on the first ballot, so evidently she’s got strong support in the association.
- Cllr Sames’ article wasn’t posted direct to the site, but rather there is automatic syndication which posts local Tory councillors’ articles from their own sites to the association page (something Cllr Sames presumably knew).
- That notwithstanding, the agent is “very disappointed” in Cllr Sames actions, and will be taking it up with him directly.