Later this morning Malcolm Dunn will be providing a review of last night’s first ‘Built To Last’ roadshow event. The event was fairly subdued but it came to life when a young Asian woman raised objections to the whole concept of the Priority List. I have asked her to develop her contribution by writing a piece for YourPlatform. Her basic argument was that she had not felt discriminated against in the Tory party before David Cameron became its leader. With the advent of the Priority List she now fears that any future advances she makes could be devalued in the eyes of others. She fears that people will interpret any progress as reflecting her gender or skin colour rather than her inherent abilities.
Unpopularity is not the only problem facing the A-list, however. Tuesday’s Telegraph underlined the fact that CCHQ cannot force Associations to pick from the list. Last night’s BtL meeting revealed strong support for local associations being able to pick local candidates. As the clipping (right) from yesterday’s London Evening Standard reveals, one candidate has already decided to apply directly to one or more of the seats that ConservativeHome revealed are in the first tranche of selecting. ConservativeHome believes that the first tranche of 35 seats have been specifically chosen to help meet CCHQ’s target of 20 women being selected. They include a disproportionate number of seats who have selected women in the past and they are being subjected to a major charm offensive.
Because of Conservative activists’ strong support for local rather than A-list candidates – and the potency of locally-rooted candidates, particularly in northern constituencies – future months will probably produce non A-list selections.
David Cameron, Francis Maude and George Osborne are in Manchester again today as part of continuing efforts to rebuild the party’s northern appeal. ToryDiary discussed the north-south challenge on Monday and this recent article by Barry White in the Yorkshire Post argues for "a permanent Northern Conservative Headquarters", properly staffed to recruit, organise, motivate, lobby, explain and disseminate.