Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday 21 October 2009

How open was the Conservative Bracknell primary?

I have come across an interesting video on Youtube this morning. It is from local Bracknell constituent Dan Haycocks who is campaigning to try and get current MP Andrew MacKay to pay back the money he seems to have overclaimed or instead step down if he is not willing to do so. He has created a campaigning website called Goodbye MacKay.

The video shows Dan and other members of his campaign trying to gain access to the Bracknell open primary/caucus that was held here on Saturday. Despite currently living in the constituency and having a valid ticket for the event, Dan was physically prevented from entering the event by a bouncer. No real reason was given for this.

Two of Dans fellow campaigners entered the event and tried to distribute "Goodbye MacKay" literature and were ejected.

What Dan wanted to do was to ask each of the primary candidates whether they thought Andrew MacKay should pay back what he owes or instead resign. It seems to me that given the reason for the primary taking place at all in the first place is because of the actions of Mr MacKay that this is a valid question to have been asked. The fact that the Conservative association actively prevented Dan and his fellow campaigners from being present at the meeting and asking this question really makes me wonder just how open the process is and how seriously the Conservatives locally here are taking the expenses issue.

Dan also speaks to a number of Conservatives and local association members on the video outside the event to get their views. I was surprised to hear one of them towards the end of the video who seems to be saying that because Mr MacKay was such a good MP he should not have to pay anything back. I wonder what David Cameron thinks about this attitude!

I have embedded Dan's video below:


James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

This was very concerning - right up until he revealed that he didn't live in the new constituency.

Why should someone who doesn't live in the NEW constituency have a vote in the caucus (not primary)?

Mark Thompson said...

Well the way I see it, he was trying to gain entry to ask a question about the behaviour of the existing MP who is still his MP. The fact that they issued him a ticket shows they thought he should have been able to gain entry.

You would probably know better than me on this but if MacKay stepped down today, would the old constituency boundaries still hold for the by-election? If so then surely Dan's vote for the selection of the Tory candidate would be relevant.

Also, it is not clear whether his two fellow campaigners who got chucked out are within the new boundaries and it seems not to matter. They were ejected for distributing "Goodbye MacKay" leaflets.

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

The fact that they issued him a ticket shows they thought he should have been able to gain entry.

Whether they had given him a ticket or not, he still wasn't entitled to attend. It may just have been a clerical error which was corrected by the bouncer.

You would probably know better than me on this but if MacKay stepped down today, would the old constituency boundaries still hold for the by-election?

I can't speak for the Tories, but for the Lib Dems a new selection would have to take place in that situation, even if there weren't boundary changes. What is expected of by-election candidates is different to that which is expected of general election candidates - much greater media scrutiny for one thing (that said, I am a dubious of the "star chamber" system the party uses for by-elections which has been abused in the past).

Goodbye Mackay said...

Hi All

Just to clarify the facts, we're talking about two issues - firstly, not being allowed into the Primary with a valid ticket, and secondly not being allowed to join the local Conservative Association.

For the event tickets - we had 5 of us there, and we all had valid tickets (i.e. all tickets had been issued to constituents who live within both the old and new boundaries). I'd taken the step of moving in with one of our supporters so my ticket was also valid (naughty perhaps, but hopefully understandable given their moving of the goal posts to exclude me as I applied repeatedly). Regardless, we were either denied access by the bouncer or thrown out - completely denied the right to take part in our 'democracy', for which we had perfectly valid tickets.

For membership of the local Conservative Association - two of us applied to join, and we were both rejected on the basis that we don't live in the area covered by the association from the next election (see the scanned reply on our website). However, if this is part of the defined rules of membership, both Andrew Mackay and I think six of the seven candidates put forward would also be refused membership, yet that's not the case, hence our claim of double standards.

We'd like to avoid this becoming a "Conservatives are bullies" issue - we simply want them to defend their decisions that we're all paying for. But if they continue to blank us and ignore us, and repeatedly fail to even respond to formal communications, we feel we have little choice than to embarass and humiliate them at every opportunity, to do whatever we can to prevent them gaining power at the next election, and to let the people of Bracknell know that they're incompetent and indefensible.

Should anyone wonder any further as to the exact facts of the situation, I can be contacted via the website...


Dan Haycocks

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Since the meeting was about selecting Mackay's successor and not at all about seeking support for some or other measures against Mackay, why would it have been appropriate to permit efforts to subvert its purpose? I think it reasonable to say it would not have been appropriate: that being so, whether the subverters had tickets or not is not relevant.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of creeps.
Clearly democracy was not in evidence.
And the absolute cheek for one sycophant to blame Tony Blair on the fact that Mrs and Mrs Mackay had ripped off the tax payer as if they were two innocent babes in the woods and not too greedy grasping get everything you can fraudsters.