GRAHAM TURNER: The attraction of open primaries

A personal view
A personal view
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Earlier this month the people of Clacton were given the chance to help choose the Conservative candidate to fight the town’s upcoming Parliamentary by-election.

Sitting MP Douglas Carswell rather inconveniently decided to jump ship and join UKIP but, honourably, resigned his seat, sparking the by-election.

The Conservative party then gave all voters in the town – members and non-members alike – the opportunity to take part in an open primary. A meeting was held at which a shortlist of four candidates addressed the audience, after which a vote was held. It saw local councillor Giles Watling chosen to defend the seat.

I like the idea of open primaries and, politically, I can see the attraction for a party; giving voters a sense of ownership and involvement before the campaign has even begun.

Although the shortlist is prepared by party officials, it must encourage transparency in the process and possibly attract a wider field of candidates.

So I was a bit disappointed that our local Conservative Association decided to take a conservative (small c) approach to finding a replacement for David Ruffley.

We have already reported the complicated selection process (committee after committee) that will come to an head with a secret ballot of association members on November 4.

I would have thought that, having taken a bit of a bashing for being so non-committal over the circumstances surrounding Mr Ruffley’s resignation, the party would want to be seen to be a little more progressive and open.

Of course, my opinion matters little, but as I’ve said before, the House of Commons has more than enough London-based barristers in its ranks already, so I hope the association looks closer to home for its candidate.

-- Continuing on a political theme, I’m so pleased the Scottish independence referendum campaign is over.

I was ambivalent towards the result – though I did see a ‘Yes’ vote as an easy solution to the West Lothian question.

No, I’m just relieved that Mrs Turner’s blood pressure can return to normal now that Alex Salmond’s face is no longer all over our television screens. I don’t think she’s ever met the man and there’s not an ounce of Scottishness in her, but his every utterance set her off on a ‘it’s all about him’ diatribe.

Thank you, Scotland.