Tensions between the rights of Party members and the essentials of Parliamentary democracy can’t be smoothed away altogether. The question is how best to manage them.
Individually, it may make sense for a constituency to pick a known local candidate. But collectively, the party needs some constituencies to think outside the box, so as to make itself collectively more electable.
The joint One Nation Caucus and Tory Reform Group conference last weekend, following the recent National Conservative Conference, are pointers to the shape of a possible future.
“There’s been a clear trend, over a long time, for MPs to be local champions, rather than distant representatives of capital or labour in Westminster.”
Trust the people is a good Conservative maxim. That should include trusting our members.
The organisation cannot decide if it is a genuine campaiging entity, a Boris Johnson love-in, or simply a talking shop for the perpetually disgruntled.
The purpose of the Conservative Party is to win elections, form a government, and deliver calmly and carefully considered Tory policies for the benefit of the nation. It is not merely to be a voice “making the argument” for conservative ideals.
The broad consensus needed for constitutional change is at odds with the factional spirit in which they have launched their campaign.
The current arrangements were a sop to activists by CCHQ as it seized control of selections, the conference, and so much more in 1998.
32 per cent, roughly one in three panel members, supported such an exchange and 60 per cent, some three in five of the whole, opposed it.
MPs hardly have a great track record of selecting suitable candidates – and the current system allows for coronations when needed.
This year has shown that our current leadership election system is untenable. Yet to replace it should mean compensating members with an expansion of their control of the party, including funds, candidate selection, and policy.
Party members deserve a larger say over policy, candidate selection, and much else. But it must be for the House of Commons to choose the prime minister.