Conservative hopefuls stay schtum on Europe
IT seemed a fair enough question from a rational enough questioner. In fact it came from the former leader of Camden’s Conservatives no less. Although it was presented in a more long-winded email, the three candidates on the final shortlist to stand for Parliament in Hampstead and Kilburn were essentially asked by Councillor Andrew Marshall: ‘Where do you stand on Europe? And how will you deal with the threat from UKIP?’
Simon Marcus, Alex Burghart and Seema Kennedy are due to scrap it out an open primary event later this month where anybody in the constituency can vote for a preferred candidate. Andrew explained that he wanted to know their position on Europe before making his own choice.
The response so far: Silence. Not a peep. Furthermore, the local association has apparently indicated the questions will remain unanswered ahead of the open primary.
At this point, outsiders might snipe: hang on, the word ‘open’ is being billed to descrive this method of choosing a candidate.
From the emails I’ve seen, Andrew had told the candidates: “I am particularly concerned about our party’s approach to the European Union – indeed I joined the party as a YC shortly after a Conservative Government had taken us into Europe, and a Conservative Party had provided most of the firepower behind the successful Yes campaign to stay in… Ideally of course I would be most interested in your own views, not those that happen to be those of the party leadership or the government.”
It shows just how much the hot potato of membership of the Europe continues to singe. But should that mean Andrew is ignored?
Andrew is rare within the modern Conservative Party in that he is as pro-European as most Liberal Democrats. He no doubt believes (as we do) that the EU is not perfect and could do with reforms but he starts with a positive attitude towards Europe unlike most of the rest of his party. It is his moderate tendencies which made him a useful ally in the Partnership Administration in Camden between 2006-10. A different Tory leader at that time would have meant a much more difficult 4 years…
Whether he will find a suitably positive candidate to choose as his preferred option for the parliamentary seat is a speculation worth pursuing.