There are a number of selections coming up for Conservative-held seats. One such is Faversham and Mid Kent, where Sir Hugh Robertson is standing down.

The following email went out from the Agent late on Friday night:

“The Executive Council tonight voted for a truncated selection process. A Sift Committee will meet at CCHQ on Wednesday next week to select four applicants, who will be invited to attend a traditional final selection meeting on Tuesday 24 February 2015. The meeting will be held at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel on the A20 at Hollingbourne commencing at 7pm.”

As the General Election approaches, associations understandably become keen to select candidates swiftly. In a few weeks the election will be so close that all remaining selections must take place using this truncated process, cutting out the longlist and interview stage – effectively the rules used for selecting by-election candidates.

One effect of this process is that the chance for the Association Executive to influence the shortlist is restricted – they will only be sifting applicants based on their written CVs, not meeting them face to face. Ordinarily they would do both. The interviews are a major opportunity for the Association to have a say, while the sift process takes place at CCHQ with members of the Candidates Team taking part.

All in all, this isn’t a system likely to produce candidates who break the mould of the 2015 intake that Paul identified recently – even if Associations might want to do so.