The constituency of Hyndburn, Lancashire has been left “without a functioning Conservative Association” after its entire leadership resigned in protest at a selection shortlist forced upon them by Tory high command. The list excluded the Conservative leader of Hyndburn Borough Council, Peter Britcliffe,* who had made no secret of his desire to contest the seat.
With Cameron-loving Karen Buckley barely two days into her role as PPC, Scrapbook can exclusively reveal that the contest has been effectively abandoned by CCHQ after Britcliffe’s supporters threatened to quit the party and fight the election under the banner of “Hyndburn Independent Conservatives”.
The council chief’s attempts to distance himself from the row are most entertaining:
“While I always believe that it is more democratic to allow local party members to have a free hand in the selection of candidates this is not something that I intend to spend time complaining about.”
Quite. Why bother to complain when acolytes are causing a stink on your behalf? Britcliffe’s council deputies Brian Roberts and Peter Clarke were among those to quit their officer positions in the local party along with his sidekick Marlene Haworth.
This is only the latest episode in a string of embarrassing flare-ups involving female Conservative candidates. Liz Truss survived a deselection attempt in South West Norfolk after the Google-hating “Turnip Taliban” finally discovered an affair widely publicised in 2006; Top brass intervened to save candidate Joanne Cash in Westminster North, with an election agent and chairwoman defenestrated in the process.
To the evident frustration of ConservativeHome, Tories in Hyndburn earned the dubious distinction of being the last constituency in England to pick their candidate despite its description in the latest edition of The Almanac of British Politics as a “classic Labour-Conservative marginal”. It has now emerged that this was the result of convoluted brinkmanship between local members and CCHQ, who were “desperate” to stop Cllr Britcliffe being selected for the third time since 1997.
They’re simply falling over each other to cock things up.
*Those in need of a laugh should head straight to Peter Britcliffe’s personal website, which plays Barry Manilow’s I Write The Songs to all visitors.