Tory right-wingers attack Cameron's A-list

Cornerstone group of Tory MPs criticise David Cameron's A-list of candidates
Cornerstone group of Tory MPs criticise David Cameron's A-list of candidates

David Cameron's A-list of preferred parliamentary candidates has today come under fire from a group of right-wing Conservative MPs.

A new report published by the Cornerstone group warns that candidates must be local to win the support of voters, rather than "parachuted" in from party headquarters in London.

Group chairman John Hayes warned that bringing in "insubstantial and untested candidates" to constituencies was a "bizarre theory of someone who spends too much time with the pseuds and posers of London's chichi set".

His comments, and the report compiled by Tory MP David Burrowes, will be seen as a direct challenge to Mr Cameron's A-list of parliamentary candidates, which has been designed to improve the overall make up of the Conservative party.

Just over 50 per cent of the list are female and ten per cent are from ethnic minorities, while it also includes a number of minor celebrities such as author Louise Bagshawe and former Coronation Street actor Adam Rickitt.

Many commentators have already condemned the list, which will be used to pick candidates in target seats, as too politically-correct, although Conservative officials insist that local party associations will have the ultimate choice about who stands.

In his report, Mr Burrowes applauds Mr Cameron's efforts to ensure parliamentary candidates be chosen so early - the next general election is not due for three or four years - but warns a central list of candidates is not the best way to get Tories elected.

His research focuses on how he won the Labour seat of Enfield Southgate on an 8.7 per cent swing at the last election, and on similar successes across the country.

"It was real local experience that helped achieve those results - local credentials bringing forward the hard work of a number of years brings success," he told Today.

"It's all very well to have initiatives that extend representation throughout the party but I don't want so much effort on an elite band chosen in London and parachuted in.

"We don't so much want a hand-picked celebrity but someone getting their hands dirty and working locally."

However, Conservative party chairman Francis Maude yesterday insisted that the priority list of candidates "contains exceptionally able people capable of winning seats across Britain and then being outstanding MPs".


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