A confidential blueprint for David Cameron’s controversial bid to impose more women, gays and ethnic candidates on reluctant party activists has come to light.
The explosive six-page document proposes the use of subterfuge to end the white, male and middle-class image of the Conservative Party.
It emerged on the eve of another grassroots revolt over the modernisation of the party.
Action Plan for Candidate Selection in Safe Seats is a fascinating insight into how modernisers have planned a gradual Tory party takeover.
Their efforts finally paid off last month when Mr Cameron imposed shortlists of ‘suitable’ Parliamentary candidates.
The move has incensed the grassroots–who have always had a say over which candidates appeared on shortlists–and triggered a wave of protests and resignations.
And the language in the document will further exacerbate tensions between the Tory high command and its army of hard working volunteers.
The document suggests using ‘stealth’ and stresses the importance of keeping ‘quiet’ over the plans to ensure more women, ethnic and gay candidates. ‘Like a conjuror, we’ll get more applause if the audience cannot see exactly how the trick is performed,’ the document says.
It was written by Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove, an influential member of Mr Cameron’s inner circle, and Dean Godson, a director of favoured think-tank Policy Exchange.
A huge turnout from the 900-strong association is expected this evening to select a candidate.
But the list imposed by Tory Central Office means they have a choice of four women (none of whom has ever fought a Parliamentary seat), one of ethnic origin and only one local (white) man. Many Stratford-upon-Avon Tories, represented over the years by John Profumo and Angus Maude (a member of Margaret Thatcher’s first Cabinet), are opposed to the way Cameron has changed selection procedure.
It has been dubbed the battle of the Stratford Squireachy and the Cameron Cuties.
Mr Cameron is unrepentant and his decision to seize power from local associations, say his friends, is the culmination of the secret plan on how to neuter the party faithful in the country.
These members of the Tory grassroots, cruelly nicknamed dinosaurs, are seen by modernisers as impediments to a progressive party. Mr Gove’s and Mr Godson’s document was written in February 2002.
Conservative party leader David Cameron wants to end the white male middle class image of his party
But even Shadow Cabinet ministers concede it has been hugely influential and the central platform of Mr Cameron’s programme. The paper accepts it was not the fault of local associations that so many white men were being chosen.
‘Most of the talented candidates on the list are white and male,’ it states. ‘The principal reason such people get selected for safe seats is because they tend to be the best on offer.’
‘The clever approach is to maintain the illusion that a good cross-section of approved candidates is being offered.’
Suggesting a degree of subterfuge, the document goes on: ‘There are several reasons why the Party should not publicly proclaim the new methodology.
‘The more that the profusion of women, black, Asian or gay candidates appears to be the result of spontaneous open-mindedness on the part of grassroot activists the greater will be the accolades.