What’s the Tory?

According to Ian Anderson, he who made kittens also put snakes in the grass. How true. Image by DevilDucMike.

According to Ian Anderson, he who made kittens also put snakes in the grass. How true. Image by DevilDucMike.

Last week I pointed out that there was to be a selection meeting at Aldridge Brownhills Conservative Association last Saturday (13th December 2014) to pick the replacement Tory candidate for Parliament in 2015, following the standing down of Richard Shepherd, who’s retiring from his 36 year tenure at the next general election.

There appears to be something rotten in the State of Aldridge as I’m hearing that the selection meeting was cancelled ‘until the New Year’ due, apparently to ‘issues being raised’. What those issues are is somewhat opaque, and I’m wondering if anyone out there can help?

Fortunately a few bad pints around particular drinking haunts in Aldridge on Sunday yielded some information from the usual drunk bar-room foghorns, but I’d really appreciate a statement from the party to put our minds at rest that the next PPC is being selected in accordance with the wishes of the local party and is a fully democratic and transparent process.

At the time, I pointed out that the selected candidate – most likely to be our next MP due to the huge current Tory majority of over 15,000 – was a choice between three parachuted-in candidates from elsewhere, and local man and popular Walsall Councillor, Marco Longhi.

It's all going swimmingly with the Aldridge Brownhills Conservative candidate selection. Image from Isna.

It’s all going swimmingly with the Aldridge Brownhills Conservative candidate selection. Image from Isna.

I am, as I stated at the time, very much at odds with the Councillor politically. He’s a Tory, after all; but I’d much rather, if we have to have a Tory, that it was a local man who cares about and understands our area than some unknown like Shepherd was, or many of the prospective candidates (Tory and Labour) who’re standing in local wards in 2015.

One only has to look at the arse Tory PPC Douglas Hansen-Luke keeps making of himself in Walsall North demonstrating his ignorance to see what I mean. I’m still not convinced the ex financial fat-cat isn’t a parody, to be honest.

From what I can tell, there seems to be some disquiet over one particular candidate, who seems to have an intriguing electoral history. Wendy Morton stood for the marginal seat of Tynemouth in the 2010 election, and in a year when possibly the most hated Prime Minster for decades was cut down, she actually managed to decrease the Tory share of the vote by 2.2%.

There seems to be an existing history of parachuting Wendy in against local wishes, as this article shows. Local voters and activists here don’t seem too happy either, as this comment on ConservativeHome indicates:

I’m not a party member but have always voted for Richard Shepherd and helped my friend who is an activist and executive member to deliver leaflets. You have your views I’ll stick to mine – I ACTUALLY live in the constituency do you?! I’m affected by the decision to replace Richard Shepherd and fundamentally believe that the best people to represent us are those who know the area and it’s needs. You talk of attempts to smear a good candidate yet I’m told that the local guy (who isn’t my own local councilor) is being smeared by those that run the party locally.

If this is true I will never ever vote conservative again and neither will my family – no wonder so many Tory voters are switching to ukip – increasingly out of touch, aloof, and not on the side of the vulnerable.

This seat is by no means safe any longer and that is why a local candudate is needed. Forget the majority vote last time – that was for Richard – next may will be very different with a ukip surge in a euro sceptic seat.

So, are we being stitched up for our next MP? Why would the central Conservative Party want this apparently mediocre candidate here? Who’s favour might be being sought, and why?

Richard Shepherd, already sweetened with a knighthood, may well be looking on with concern – or maybe not.

If you have anything to say, you can do so in confidence: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. A statement from the local party would be wonderful if they’d like to correct the rumour, sigh and gossip that’s circulating.

I shan’t hold my breath, because remember, this isn’t about us.

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10 Responses to What’s the Tory?

  1. ianrobo says:

    In order to have a parachute you have to of course have the local party agree. I would imagine a lot of the A&B tory members come from Marco’s stronghold with his mates of Pelsall/Walsall Wood and Aldridge North compared to the rest ?

    Not good at all for them to cancel for unspecified reasons, makes it look dodgy.

  2. Douglas Hansen-Luke says:

    Always detailed to hear my name mentioned by your wonderful self. Someone as well informed as yourself will naturally remember that I was selected by local people in a meeting to which all Walsall North residents were invited. The Conservative Party aims to be as democratic as possible. If you’d like to learn more about the different selection methods used then this ‘parody’ would be happy to prove his existence either in a phone call or in person at the The Cross Keys this Friday between 4 and 6pm.

    • Hi Doug

      I see your running Google search alerts still work.

      Not really that bothered about your selection, as you’re clearly doing the equivalent of working in MacDonalds before getting a crack at a seat you’re likely to win later on. I’m interested in what’s going on in Aldridge-Brownhills, where things seem a good bit more opaque.

      Any comment on the story itself you have, rather than the usual oleaginous self promotion would be welcome.


      • Pedro says:

        I say chap, I wouldn’t go to the Cross Keys if I were you. You’ll get barred! The form shows that gentlemen with Double-barrelled names….

    • I’d just like to return to this briefly, now I’m at a real keyboard.

      I know well the media training people like Doug get; they’re instructed to challenge once, attempt to take troublesome quislings like me to a private channel, and then block them and move on, but I would like to just point something out.

      Doug claims to be a man of the people, ideally suited to Walsall North, despite repeated gaffs. He’s getting his face around lots though, and is now so well trained he reflexively announces ‘Working for Walsall!’ when he opens the fridge door and the light shines in his face.

      A bit surprising, then, that the prospective MP for areas like The Butts and Short Heath should be involved with events like this:


      (if that’s unavailable, try the screenshot here)

      (Note Dougie is pushing this – how posh. It’s got four confirmed attendees, too, which is more than the three at his touted library event)

      This is the Annual Carlton Political Dinner. Senior politicos and people wanting the ear of government pay highly to attend these functions, which raise a huge amount. For instance, in 2009 Lord Stewartby was generously provided with tickets for that year’s Carlton Dinner by Ken Costa for the Lord and his wife to a value of £1700. That’s £850 a head. For a 4 hour dinner.

      (all the above is declared in the register of Members Interests here)


      These dinners have attracted some interesting attention:


      They have some notable attendees, too:



      Cameron is often there (and let’s face it, getting FaceTime with senior Tories is what this is all about). The Telegraph here has something to say:


      To save you ploughing through, here’s the interesting bit:

      ‘The poshest event of the Tory conference season is the Carlton Club’s political dinner, which takes place in London beforehand. It’s a private affair, closed to the press, where the truly rich calculate what their mansion tax bill might be and donate half of it to the Tories to make sure they win a majority, so that bill never arrives.’

      And yet, through all of this, investment banker Dougie claims to care for Walsall (where he’s no previous connections with) and understand us, whilst all the time being snide about the value of David Winnick’s pension.

      Quite what Doug would understand about food banks in Walsall, the effects of his own political idol’s ideological and punitive austerity or our own local government (who he’s previously had difficulty remembering the makeup of) is anyone’s guess.

      This is all modern British democracy, folks: the parachuted in, slick and financially oiled machine schmoozing for rich donors, against local people who know and give a damn. I know which I’d rather have.


  3. Becky T says:

    Thanks for keeping us updated Bob.

    Lets look at this way an unknown could split the TORY vote haha.

    In 2006 GE Richard only had a 5000 majority. There were also 5000 Lib Dem voters last time. Is it so unwinable for Labour?! With a strong campaign?

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