Tories adopt American format to pick general election candidate
BERWICK Conservatives have arranged an American-style open primary election to select their candidate for the next general election.
In what they describe as “an unprecedented move for politics in the north east”, an open invitation to choose a prospective Conservative MP is being issued to all residents registered to vote in the Berwick constituency.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who stood at the 2010 general election, will be one of three candidates at the open primary meeting scheduled for 7pm on February 8 at Northumberland Hall in Alnwick. The other two are expected to be chosen next week.
Local Conservatives hope to form a “broad and enthusiastic coalition of local people” to back a candidate who would be aiming to unseat long-serving Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith.
Berwick-upon-Tweed Conservative Association chairman John Rae said: “Local Conservatives are very excited to be inviting the public to choose our parliamentary candidate.
“Our decision to open up this process to everyone registered to vote in our constituency is about bringing people into the political process and giving them more of a say in who their MP is.
“It is our hope that we can involve as many people as possible in this crucial political exercise.”
Although they are common place in the United States, open primaries are relatively new in the UK. Sarah Wollaston, a GP with no experience of politics, was chosen as a Tory candidate in Britain’s first open primary, standing in the Totnes constituency in Devon for the 2010 general election. She held on to the seat.
Mrs Trevelyan, who ran a strong campaign to finish a close second to Sir Alan Beith in 2010, cutting his majority to 2,690, described the party’s decision to hold an open primary as an “interesting process” and says she is “up for the challenge of rallying her supporters”.
Mr Rae added: “After strong progress for Conservatives at the last general election, Berwick is now a key marginal seat. There is a strong chance that our next MP will be a Conservative, so it is important that a broad range of residents have a say in who their Conservative candidate is.”
Mr Rae added: “After strong progress for Conservatives at the last general election, Berwick is now a key marginal seat. There is a strong chance that our next MP will be a Conservative, so it is important that a broad range of residents have a say in who their Conservative candidate is.
“Our aim is to build a broad and enthusiastic coalition of local people to support our candidate.”
People who are registered to vote in the Berwick constituency may register to attend the open primary by telephoning 01665 602106 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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