Devizes constituency: uncertainty over Tory selection process
LATEST NEWS: The Devizes Conservatives website now says: "Devizes Constituency Conservative Association [DCCA] is organising the selection of a new parliamentary candidate. The process has been overtaken by the calling of the General Election and under Party rules a short list of three is now put to the membership for decision."
"The meeting to make this decision will be held on Saturday 9th November in Devizes and is a closed meeting of Members of Devizes Conservatives."
There has been some mystery and a sense of chaos surrounding the choice of the Conservative candidate to replace Claire Perry O'Neill at the December General Election. This announcement on the website does not say which of the six previously published candidates have been dropped.
Mark Wallace of the conservativehome website reports that Brigadier Peter Sharpe has resigned as Chairman of the DCCA - the body overseeing the local selection process.
Wallace reports: "Apparently CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters] is forcing Devizes to delete three candidates from its shortlist against its will."
Wallace does not know which three candidates they want deleted from the list marlborough.news has reported. But from comments on social media it looks as though CCHQ want Danny Kruger to stand - one person believes they are 'desperate' to make him the candidate.
Kruger is currently Boris Johnson's Political Secretary and is the son of Prue Leith (described in one unamused tweet as 'the cake lady').
However a member of the constituency association has reported: "Puzzling, his [Brigadier Sharpe's] name is on the letter I got today announcing that we would be selecting from 3 candidates (they aren't listed). Peter was always a bit lukewarm to doing the job, he had to be nagged to do it by Claire Perry - plenty more top brass in this area to take on the mantle."
Marlborough.news has been trying to get to the bottom of this matter. On Friday afternoon the constituency office was (according to the message on its phone line) 'unmanned'. There is nothing about the selection process on the DCCA's website.
The involvement of CCHQ in selection processes is causing some disquiet elsewhere in Britain.
For example, a Conservative member in Bath has complained that they had Liam Fox's assistant imposed on them despite the fact "...he has no history with the city". This member continued: "They keep doing this...If we're not going to have real local representation we might as well ditch the sham of a system and go for PR voting instead!"
Mark Wallace has also reported that Conservative MP Charles Walker has resigned from the Party Board, and the Candidates Committee: "The reason why is not confirmed, but I know there has been a vocal dispute on the committee about centralised influence over candidate selections."