Many would-be Tory MPs will be anxiously waiting for their post to arrive over the next couple of days. ConservativeHome understands that applicants for the party’s Priority List should receive their letters from CCHQ on Wednesday.
At least 100 names will be on the list – and as ConservativeHome has already reported, over half will be women and a tenth will be from ethnic minorities.
There will be no formal publication of the list (in line with the current list of approved candidates) and those candidates who are successful in getting on to the list will be asked
not to talk to the media (except through CCHQ) to alert CCHQ to any media contact (strikethru and red text amendment made at 6.05pm on sound advice). A number of target parliamentary seats will start selecting immediately although these will not be publicly identified.
The Priority List will be topped up in July and in December. The hope of being part of these top-ups will, CCHQ must hope, mollify candidates who are unsuccessful this week.
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‘Staff is policy’ is one of the truest of dictums and David Cameron’s greatest legacy to the party might be the candidates he promotes and local associations then choose. If Mr Cameron becomes Britain’s next Prime Minister (and the Tories are now favourites to win the next election) he will bring 130 and more new Tory MPs into Parliament. Over five to ten years of leadership he will be responsible for 50% or more of the make-up of the parliamentary party. Unlike George W Bush who has used his de facto leadership of the American Republicans to encourage the adoption of socially conservative, tax-cutting and hawkish candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races, Mr Cameron is not pursuing an obviously ideological approach to selection. His objective is the simple one of increasing the number of women and ethnic Tory MPs.
Will this have implications for the ideological and political balance of the party?
Mary Ann Sieghart thinks ‘yes’. Reacting last year to Theresa May’s early advocacy of 50/50 lists The Times’ columnist noted how the Labour Party’s increased number of women MPs agitated “for the party to pay more attention to the issues that female voters really cared about: public services, childcare, work-life balance”. There may or may not be ideological implications of more female Tory MPs but there must be a strong likelihood of more interest in the issues identified by Ms Sieghart.