Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tumult for Tynemouth Tories

A - Lister selected ahead of local candidate.

After a couple of candidates withdrew from the contest, one of David Cameron's "A" list , Richmond Cllr. Wendy Morton (pictured), was drafted into the shortlist, and selected ahead of local rising star Michael McIntyre, a decision which has caused tumultuous upset amongst Tynemouth Conservatives.

The original list of nominees was wittled down to a shortlist by members of the local association in a ballot to decide the final four to go in front of the association's executive council for a final decision. It was when some of these final four dropped out of the running that Cllr. Morton was drafted in. Local Councillor Michael McIntyre had built a useful power base in Tynemouth and was greatly responsible for the increase in Conservative seats on North Tyneside Council and recording a huge 5% swing to the Tories at the last election. His supporters had been primarily responsible for campaigning, footslogging, delivering leaflets, and fund raising, in their attempts to return this target seat to the Tory fold. It seems that some members of the executive council must have been swayed by the party's A - list scheme to push favoured candidates into winnable seats, as well as bolster the ranks of female Conservative representation within the House of Commons. Typically, for northern Conservatives, the in-fighting has already started, Tim Montgomery's Conservative Home has received a number of critical comments from Tynemouth members who see the prospects of overturning Labour's majority downgraded, and are threatening to withold support from Wendy Morton.

Here are a selection of comments:

"Have Tynemouth Conservatives' Executive lost their senses? Tynemouth was the only likely Tory gain in the North East in a general election, but was always going to be hard work, yet the Executive has picked a candidate who does not live in the constituency, and doesn't even live in the North East region. Even worse, she wasn't on the short list of 4 candidates which the members chose by ballot last week - she was only put on the list after two of those 4 dropped out in the last few days. (For some reason, the members HAD to vote for a short list of 4, they weren't allowed to vote for just the one person they really wanted).
Wendy Morton should never have been on the list today - the Executive should only have considered those candidates whom the members actually wanted ,not someone they rejected.
The Labour MP here lives in the constituency and will make mincemeat of such an outsider.
The Executive should have picked the local candidate, Mr McIntyre, who lives and works here, is well known, took a council seat off Labour and halved the Labour majority in 2005.
Today's decision is a disaster."

"I feel really sorry for Wendy Morton, who is a decent candidate and a hard worker. But unfortunately the decision to reject the hardest working activist in the entire Association in favour of a candidate from a different region is going to cause chaos.

Wendy is going to be on her own, as virtually the entire activist base within the constituency is centred on Michael McIntyre.

It's sad, but a combination of petty infighting and lack of political commonsense amongst 16 people has handed this seat to Labour again. Labour MP Alan Campbell will be the happiest man on Tyneside tonight."

"I don't think anyone can criticise Wendy Morton's commitment to the Tory party. Neither is it fair that anyone should, just because she won the candidacy. It would be wholly unfair and deeply hurtful to her to do so.

Criticism might be better directed at those who, for whatever their petty personal reasons, decided to vote for an extremely able and good candidate who, quite frankly very few electors will have heard of, rather than an equally able and good one who is known in the constituency and stood the better chance of winning the seat."

"A serious case of sour grapes on the part of some individuals posting on here. Shame they cannot direct their frustrations into fighting off the Labour Party rather than throwing their dolly out of the pram when their man doesn't get selected."

"Could the A listers please stop the mutual admiration society? The negative comments are there because the activists know this constituency backwards, forwards and sideways, and have worked like the clappers in every election campaign for years.

We are angry, furious even, that a well respected, well known, incredibly committed and energetic LOCAL candidate has been robbed of the chance to build on his success in the last election and win the seat this time.

I have nothing against Wendy, she is obviously a very committed Conservative and a very nice person, but to have a candidate from Yorkshire, who was not shortlisted by the members and who will have to campaign from a standing start and learn about the constituency from scratch is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

The majority of the hard work that has given us such success in Tynemouth and on the council has been done by a small team of activists inspired by and loyal to Michael McIntyre, and yes, David is quite right, a significant number of us will be walking away, as of today.

The people who selected Wendy never canvass, rarely leaflet, would never dream of campaigning in all weathers when their feet are killing them, and they will be conspicuous by their absence during the election campaign.

I sincerely hope they do turn out to help Wendy, but if I were her I wouldn't be holding my breath."

Curly is rather disappointed too that a candidate from outside of the region has been selected, a move that will make winning the seat just a wee bit more difficult, unless Tynemouth Conservative Association can get it's act together to support Wendy, I wonder if her decision to allow herself to be considered had anything to do with latest moves to "cull" the A-List?


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