Stephen Greenhalgh is not a woman. Nor is he a member of an ethnic minority. Nor has he been sprinkled with stardust, with conventionally good looks to prove it.
No, I am not suggesting that Phillipa Roe, Syed Kamall and Zac Goldsmith have only these qualities respectively to recommend them as Mayor of London – and therefore as the Conservative candidate for the post. Each has a lot to offer. But it is an open secret that Downing Street and CCHQ want two or three candidates for the Open Primary shortlist who will illustrate diversity.
As a white middle-aged man, Greenhalgh perhaps doesn’t meet this requirement. But he has run a big London council – indeed, his team actually won it from Labour – which delivered Tory policies. And he is a deputy mayor under Boris Johnson. The breadth of his local government experience thus stretches wider even than Roe’s.
His manifesto proposes cutting travelcard, rail and tube fares by three per cent; higher home ownership, and keeping 5000 police officers in neighbourhoods to keep victim-based crime falling. You may or may not believe that his programme is deliverable. But is there a good reason why Londoners shouldn’t get the chance to weigh it in the primary?
Party members want to believe that if they work hard, get a lot done, and aspire to more they will get a fair crack of the whip – the chance to work their way up the Party’s own ladder.
These are the principles we apply everywhere else: “aspiration” is all the rage. ConservativeHome doesn’t believe that there should be a shortlist at all. But since there is, whether Greenhalgh is or isn’t on it is a test case of whether the Party practices the values it preaches. We will return to these matters tomorrow.