ConservativeHome asked last Friday when a timetable for the selection of the Party’s candidate for the London Mayoralty would be published. We recommended that it should run “long” rather than “short”, that CCHQ should organise some campaigning activity before the summer break, that all candidates be on the ballot, and that the selection be made by Party members rather than an Open Primary (but noting that there may be logistical problems either way). We have no preferred candidate for the nomination at this stage, but believe that an Open Primary will help Zac Goldsmith, who with Syed Kamall looks to be the front-runner.
CCHQ has today announced that the timetable will indeed be “long” – that’s to say, the winner will be announced “in September”. Since neither Kamall nor Goldsmith are straining at the leash to campaign next month, we can presume that the contest will begin in earnest at the start of September and finish near its end. CCHQ is saying that the winning candidate won’t be announced at Party Conference. Perhaps it plans to use the news to disrupt Labour’s instead.
So good news on the timetable, not-so-good news on the selection method (though there were arguments for both methods) and downright bad news on a shortlist. There’s no good reason why the primary shouldn’t consider all the candidates declared so far – Andrew Boff, Sol Campbell, Steven Greenhalgh and Ivan Massow, as well as Goldsmith and Kamall. Instead, it will be presented with “a shortlist of two or three”. This sounds like Kamall, Goldsmith and maybe one other. This will be chosen by “a group of party members”: shades of a Soviet Central Committee. We don’t have details as we go to press, but will update this post when we do.
In short, we have the widest selection possible, a long timetable – and a very short list. Which considered together looks like good news for Goldsmith.