Tories’ secret plan to kill off party dinosaurs (i.e., conservatives)

From The Daily Mail

A confidential blueprint for David Cameron’s controversial bid to impose more women, gays and ethnic candidates on reluctant party activists has come to light.

The explosive six-page document proposes the use of subterfuge to end the white, male and middle-class image of the Conservative Party.

It emerged on the eve of another grassroots revolt over the modernisation of the party.

Action Plan for Candidate Selection in Safe Seats is a fascinating insight into how modernisers have planned a gradual Tory party takeover.

Their efforts finally paid off last month when Mr Cameron imposed shortlists of ‘suitable’ Parliamentary candidates.

The move has incensed the grassroots – who have always had a say over which candidates appeared on shortlists – and triggered a wave of protests and resignations.

And the language in the document will further exacerbate tensions between the Tory high command and its army of hard working volunteers.

The document suggests using ‘stealth’ and stresses the importance of keeping ‘quiet’ over the plans to ensure more women, ethnic and gay candidates. ‘Like a conjuror, we’ll get more applause if the audience cannot see exactly how the trick is performed,’ the document says.

It was written by Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove, an influential member of Mr Cameron’s inner circle, and Dean Godson, a director of favoured think-tank Policy Exchange.

Mr Gove is a close friend of Joanne Cash, 40, the poster girl for the Tories’ so-called A-list of candidates designed to fast-track women, ethnic candidates and gays into winnable seats.

She was involved in perhaps the most notorious row over new candidates, in the key marginal of Westminster North.


LUCY ALLEN – a 45-year-old accountant with a career in investment management. She is an NHS non-executive director and councillor in Wandsworth, South London.

VICTORIA ATKINS – a barrister, and daughter of MEP Sir Robert Atkins.

ALICE BARNARD – the regional director for the Countryside Alliance is a Cambridge graduate who worked for The Job, the newspaper of the Metropolitan Police.

GEORGINA BUTLER – aged 64, the former ambassador to Costa Rica and Nicaragua is a member of the Conservative Human Rights Commission and lives in Torquay.

NADHIM ZAHAWI – the chief executive of YouGov polling organisation, the 42-year-old is a former Wandsworth councillor. Born in Baghdad, he is the son of Kurdish immigrants who fled Saddam Hussein.

PHILIP SECCOMBE – the chartered surveyor and councillor has been a member of Stratford-upon-Avon Conservative Association for 30 years.

At a meeting of the association last week Miss Cash publicly resigned – only to reinstate herself on Twitter the next day after the intervention of Tory high command.

Now the row over selection has moved to the Warwickshire constituency of Stratford-upon-Avon.

A huge turnout from the 900-strong association is expected this evening to select a candidate.

But the list imposed by Tory Central Office means they have a choice of four women (none of whom has ever fought a Parliamentary seat), one of ethnic origin and only one local (white) man. Many Stratford-upon-Avon Tories, represented over the years by John Profumo and Angus Maude (a member of Margaret Thatcher’s first Cabinet), are opposed to the way Cameron has changed selection procedure.

It has been dubbed the battle of the Stratford Squireachy and the Cameron Cuties.

Sir William Lawrence, who has served 28 years as a councillor in the town, said: ‘Just think of the quality of the MPs who have been chosen by the constituency association in the past. But, today, we are not trusted to make that choice.’

Many local Tories are suspicious of the timing of the resignation of sitting MP John Maples, a supporter of all-women shortlists.

He quit last month, just after Cameron brought in the rules that meant candidate shortlists would be imposed on local associations.

Mr Cameron is unrepentant and his decision to seize power from local associations, say his friends, is the culmination of the secret plan on how to neuter the party faithful in the country.

These members of the Tory grassroots, cruelly nicknamed dinosaurs, are seen by modernisers as impediments to a progressive party. Mr Gove’s and Mr Godson’s document was written in February 2002.

David CameronConservative party leader David Cameron wants to end the white male middle class image of his party

But even Shadow Cabinet ministers concede it has been hugely influential and the central platform of Mr Cameron’s programme. The paper accepts it was not the fault of local associations that so many white men were being chosen.

‘Most of the talented candidates on the list are white and male,’ it states. ‘The principal reason such people get selected for safe seats is because they tend to be the best on offer.’

But it also predicts there would be flashpoints over plans to parachute in outside candidates.

‘The party has little direct leverage over associations, consisting of volunteers who guard their local autonomy jealously and value their ability to choose future MPs. Nevertheless not only can objections be overcome, they MUST be overcome.

‘The clever approach is to maintain the illusion that a good cross-section of approved candidates is being offered.’

Suggesting a degree of subterfuge, the document goes on: ‘There are several reasons why the Party should not publicly proclaim the new methodology.

‘The more that the profusion of women, black, Asian or gay candidates appears to be the result of spontaneous open-mindedness on the part of grassroot activists the greater will be the accolades.

‘Most Tories loathe political correctness and positive discrimination. If one tries to be ‘in your face’ about the fact that positive discrimination is taking place activists are much more likely to rebel; a version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, is called for.

‘Yet another factor that should persuade us to do our good work by stealth is the fact our opponents don’t believe we have got a cat in hell’s chance of passing their test [for the selection of candidates]. It would be counterproductive to tip them off.’

The authors also admit white men will feel disadvantaged, stating: ‘The handling of white males should be done with sensitivity. They should not be made to feel second class and must be assured that the party wants them in Parliament.’

But the party has not heeded that warning. Since the rules came into force last month it has selected a Muslim in Bromsgrove and a black businessman in Surrey East.

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