Congratulations to Councillor Ranil Jayawardena, who won yesterday’s Open Primary to become the PPC for North East Hampshire.
As we reported yesterday, Cllr Jayawardena was up against candidates with General Election experience, and one who had taken part in an Open Primary before. In the end it seems that his position as the local candidate won out.
The Open Primary format for selections is increasingly popular, but we’re in the early stages of seeing how it changes the dynamics of picking Conservative candidates.
A major impact of bringing in local voters as well as just Conservative members could well be a boost for those with a local link, and recognition in the area. Notably, Ranil is not just a local resident he’s the Deputy Leader of Basingstoke Council, which will have further increased the number of people who know him.
All of which is a good thing – one of the benefits of Open Primaries is that it gives the chosen PPC a head start in talking to the electorate, and it gives voters a greater stake in the eventual election.
It’s not as simple as saying local candidates will always win (in some places they have been beaten by outsiders with compelling stories, while some Associations haven’t chosen to put a local candidate through to the final round) but in this case, at least, the format has made a local link even more powerful than normal.