Friday, November 10, 2006

A-list resentment

The various criticisms of the Conservatives Party's priority list, known as the A-list are well known and continue to be heard. Only a week or so ago, Anne Widdecombe took on Bernard Jenkin on 18 Doughty St on the subject.

However I was surprised at the resentment to the list amongst party activists I spoke to at the conference this year and most of the criticism seemed not to be based around the principle of the list (surprising) but just the practical issue of people on it. A significant proportion were regarded as being on it for all the wrong reasons.

It would be easy to attack the scheme as the failed result of imposition of 'top-down' targets placed on a system not capable of delivering the best result anyway, and unable to respond correctly to the new parameters of the target setter.

However on balance I still support it. It appears to me to be supporting two aims. Firstly ensuring we have the talent to form a good Government in the future and secondly to balance the type of representatives we have. For the former, it is essential we do this and other than selecting candidates centrally for the safe seats, this is probably the best way; cream off the most talented individuals, then give those associations the opportunity to select from that list.

For the latter aim of balancing the candidates, I regard this form of positive discrmination not so insidious if it is seen merely as a priming of the pump; a temporary neccessity to make badly needed change.

My belief is this system will take time to bed in, but that this and other selection reforms will not seem so controversial in 5 years time.

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