Readers with long memories may well recall that in December 2014 there was some furore over the selection of the next Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Aldridge Brownhills following the standing down of Richard Shepherd, who’s retiring from his 36 year tenure at the next general election.
The competition for the person very likely to be our next MP (We’re in a fairly safe Tory seat here) was between four candidates – popular local Tory Councillor for Pelsall Marco Longhi, and three outsiders – the favourite being Wendy Morton.
The selection process had proven controversial for a number of reasons.
After being cancelled due to procedural controversy, the selection for the next candidate finally took place last night, Thursday 22nd January 2015.
Marco was popular with the electorate but since it’s party members who vote, this seems to have had little sway with the local branch. They chose outsider, Wendy Morton, rejecting Marco who knows and cares about our area.
Richard Shepherd welcomes newly-selected @morton_wendy as new prospective MP for Aldridge Brownhills pic.twitter.com/E5rRquqyTs— ToryPressMids (@ToryPressMids) January 22, 2015
Wendy Morton is vice chairman of the Conservative Party, who previously 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 have been unsettled too, as this comment on ConservativeHome would appear to indicate.
I’d really like to congratulate Wendy, but I can’t. Why should I? This will be yet another career politician seat warming in a backwater constituency they have no connection to. As far as I’m concerned, this whole affair represents everything that’s wrong with modern politics: We could have had a local man who’s passionate about us and our area – even if I don’t like his politics – but instead, the party machinery appears to have taken precedence over the constituency.
I think that about says it all.
You can read the coverage at the Express & Star here.
You’ve said everything that needs saying
Bob….. whilst being on opposite sides of the political fence, I cannot agree more with your last paragraph that states parachuting an outsider in sums up all that is wrong with politics, but is it just a modern issue or do I feel this has been how the system has worked for donkey’s years?
What the hell does Wendy know about our area? Why does she care? Well of course the answer is she doesn’t (on both points) Local politics should be about local politics! As long as whoever represents me and my neighbours does a good job personally I couldn’t care less what their party colours are.
Nothing will change with Wendy’s selection nor will anything change should she become our M.P. In fairness it doesn’t matter that this example is Tory, all of the parties are guilty of the same practice of parachuting in outsiders.
Oh well back to work…………………………………………….
All the best and keep up the good work…….
Some of the comments about Longhi on Conservative Home certainly reinforce the idea of the Tories as the nasty party. (The meeting was also a bloody nuisance to me, as I was attending a meeting in an adjoining room at the community centre: place infested with Tories, and great difficulty finding a place to park the jalopy.)
But I wonder about the “local candidate” thing. Winnick was also a non-local and has proved to be a good MP. If Disraeli, Gladstone or Palmerston could come back, they’d be gobsmacked to see MPs expected to visit constituencies, hold surgeries and take up issues for constituents. The Victorian MP rarely visited his constituency between elections, and saw his duty clearly as being present in the house to vote on legislation.
You make interesting points, but it’s interesting that you use MPs from a time when Britain didn’t have remotely universal suffrage to illustrate it. Back then, politicians were not the concern of the working class.
Maybe they still aren’t?
Responding to Bob’s comment on my reply.
I suspect other factors are at play, as well as universal suffrage. One, of course, is ease of travel. Prior to the railway age, a weekly or fortnightly constituency surgery for the voters of Staffordshire would have been pretty well impossible. The “social worker” aspect of an MP’s work, taking up issues on behalf of individual constituents, may be a symptom of centralisation and the hollowing out of local councils’ powers. Time was when a pothole in Lichfield Road would have been firmly in the bailiwick of the council for Walsall Wood, not the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills.
More seriously, I think it could reasonably be argued that the assiduous attention to constituents’ problems usually seen as a mark of a “good” MP irrespective of party is actually a distraction from the core duties of a Member of Parliament: legislatiion and holding the gov’t to account. One huge problem these in recent times is excessive law-making – with Blair’s gov’t at one stage having created one new criminal offence per sitting day! – resulting in inadequately examined laws like the dangerous dog’s breakfast.
Apologies for this entry, it’s completely off track as far as politics goes. Today could be the day when the 2 millionth hit on this blog happens…………..