Nick Herbert - Conservative choice

7 April 2005
The public row over the choice of Nick Herbert to be the Arundel and South Downs constituency candidate for the Tory Party is only half of the story. It is who they did not select that says much more. Herbert is by all accounts a shallow, virulent anti-European: regressive not just on taxation, but on national identity and relations with the world. Up against him in the short-list of three who spoke to 400 odd local party members last night, was Laura Sandys. Among Laura's wide and lively range of interests, she Chairs the Board of openDemocracy on which I sit. So praise her I can't. Read her for yourself on openDemocracy, on Europe, on Iraq and especially her star essay on the nature of US politics, written before 9/11. How is it possible for the Conservatives to systematically refuse to choose Laura as a candidate? It is not just because local activists don't like intelligent, single women. It is also that the leadership is not modern and does not want the future to be different from the past it once knew. Unable to challenge Tony Blair by setting a new agenda, they permit him to indulge in his own version of conservatism. He can only get away with being King Tony Blair as so well described by Dominic Hilton because the opposition do not want to change the terms. It is how politics is done that matters now, in the era of globalisation. The selection of Nick Herbert is a deeply depressing confirmation that the Conservative Party is not interested. All real name comments welcome, please send them to [email protected]

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Boris Johnson's government stands accused of 'COVID cronyism', after handing out staggering sums of money to controversial private firms to fight COVID-19. Often the terms of these deals are kept secret, with no value-for-money checks or penalties for repeated failures which cost lives. And many major contracts have gone directly to key Tory donors and allies – without competition.

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