One of London’s Tory MPs told me yesterday that he is strongly against the shortlist proposed by the Party for its Mayoral candidate selection – and that those concerned ought instead to be able to put their cases to the people of London in the open primary that the Party plans to hold. This has also been our position since we first wrote last month about how the process will work (though, if there is a shortlist, we believe that Stephen Greenhalgh should be on it.) “Keep going,” another Conservative MP said to me recently.
Opposition to a shortlist turns out also to be the view of Zac Goldsmith. “He is happy to run against anyone who has put their name forward,” a source close to him has told me. The Richmond Park MP has two reasons for taking this view. First, he doesn’t want to be seen to be the beneficiary of a stitch-up which, fairly or unfairly, some London activists and MPs believe the shortlist process to be. Second – and more importantly, his camp says – his hostility to a shortlist should simply be taken at face value. As a democrat, he is happy to take on all comers in the primary.
Reporting this news also gives me the opportunity to update details of the committee which will choose the shortlist – and to give the running order in which it will interview candidates on Saturday June 26, when it will be drawn up. This is as follows:
- Ivan Massow.
- Andrew Boff.
- Sol Campbell.
- Stephen Greenhalgh.
- Syed Kamall.
- Phillipa Roe.
- Zac Goldsmith.
CCHQ strongly denies the claim, shared with ConservativeHome by many Tory observers of the process, that it wants a shortlist of the final three candidates. One cynic claims that it is significant that these three are due on last next Saturday. But the order could just as easily be alphabetical, with two changes for candidates’ convenience. It was drawn up before Sol Campbell departed the race – if, that is, he actually has: an e-mail from him inviting activists to get out the vote in a Kingston Council by-election was doing the rounds yesterday.
Finally, some changes to our list of the selection committee: for London South, we have been given the names of Luke Parker, Father Martin Hislop, Kemi Badenoch, Richard McDonald, Michael Mitchell and Simon Windle. From Conservative Future, Luke Springthorpe’s name can be substituted for those of Nabil Najjar and Nic Clarke.
As I wrote last time round, more light could be shone on these mysteries were CCHQ simply to publish the full list. I reported previously that it is unwilling to because were this to happen the committee members might be lobbied. I can add today that it also believes that it shouldn’t do so without getting permission from them first. On the first point, our reply is that there’s nothing wrong with other activists offering a view to committee members – indeed, this should be welcome. On the second – we take the point, but the identity of London area officers is surely not a state secret.