Liz Truss D-Day: Latest developments
Chris Fisher, political editor As SW Norfolk Tories prepared for this evening’s showdown vote on Elizabeth Truss, David Cameron was warned of similar candidate battles in other seats if Conservative HQ “carries on interfering”.
Chris Fisher, political editor
As SW Norfolk Tories prepared for this evening's showdown vote on Elizabeth Truss, David Cameron was warned of similar candidate battles in other seats if Conservative HQ “carries on interfering”.
A plea for people at the top of the party to learn lessons from the civil war that followed Ms Truss's selection came from Tim Montgomerie, of the ConservativeHome website used by activists in the party.
“Blaming sexism and some unforgiving moralism” for the debacle in Norfolk wouldn't do, he said. The saga was more complex than that, and the national leadership had to realise that choosing a parliamentary candidate was “one of the last rights available to a Tory member”.
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Mr Montgomerie has been backing Ms Truss, and his comment may have been part of a strategy to clinch the vote in her favour by signalling that Mr Cameron's modernising strategists and fixers will behave more sensitively in future.
Leaders of the two sides will lock horns in a debate at the Swaffham Assembly Rooms that is expected to be heated and which will end in a secret ballot that could result in Ms Truss being evicted as the local Tory association's parliamentary candidate only three weeks after she was chosen.
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Her champions at the meeting include county councillor Shelagh Hutson, who told the EDP today that she should be reselected because “she is able and bright, and because she is being pilloried for something that some people are actually in no position to criticise her for”.
Asked if she is confident that Ms Truss will get a vote of confidence tomorrow evening, she cautiously replied; “I hope so.”
Those arguing for Ms Truss to be sent packing will include Sir Jeremy Bagge, who further revealed today that Mr Cameron had acknowledged to him that Conservative HQ had “made a mistake” in not passing on information to the association that she had had an affair with a Conservative MP.
The association had been both “betrayed” and deceived” by Conservative Central Office, he continued. And in reference to a plea to him by the Tory leader not to stir up more trouble because it could have “a ripple effect across the country”, Sir Jeremy, a former high sheriff of Norfolk, emphasised: “Since then he has carried out a U-turn on a referendum on Europe which will have more of a ripple effect”.
He, Ms Hutson and other speakers will be given only two minutes each tomorrow night to state their case in a debate that both sides still seem to think could go either way.
It will be presided over by Lord Taylor of Holbeach, a front bench Tory spokesman in the House of Lords. And that appointment was being queried by local activists - either because they had never previously heard of him or because they did not understand how someone in Mr Cameron's shadow ministerial team could be deemed independent.
For an in-depth analysis of the scandal that has rocked the Conservative Party both in Norfolk and across the country buy Tuesday's EDP.