Excessive CCHQ "command and control" is already angering some activists
As we near the deadline for candidate nominations ahead of next month’s general election, both major parties are embroiled in an evergreen row. This is not just about being forced to dump individuals who have a record of unsavoury remarks or (in Labour’s case) allegedly antisemitic views. Both Labour and Conservative headquarters are also being accused of stitching up selection races for favoured insiders.
On the Tory side, disgruntled members cite the selection of several former Downing Street aides for safe seats. These include Andrew Griffith in Arundel and South Downs, James Wild in West Norfolk, and Danny Kruger in Devizes – all despite the Prime Minister’s team having only been in office, with a non-existent majority, for a few months. Nor does the run of advisers stop there: we also find Claire Coutinho, who previously worked for Rishi Sunak, in East Surrey; Simon Jupp, who advises Dominic Raab, in East Devon; and Anthony Browne, who served as an aide to Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor of London, in South Cambridgeshire.
This last is already the subject of controversy, with Browne facing calls to stand down over allegedly racist arguments he advanced in the Spectator – not helpful in a seat where local polling shows the Conservatives may already have fallen behind the Liberal Democrats. Mims Davies, meanwhile, stands accused of launching a "chicken run" from her current seat of Eastleigh, where the Lib Dems are again expected to do well, to Mid Sussex, the safe seat vacated by Sir Nicholas Soames. This has reportedly angered other MPs defending marginal seats, who feel neglected by CCHQ.