Tory candidates are dropping like flies:
1. Jill Skalla was the Tory candidate for Colchester (LD Majority of 6000). She resigned in August citing “work and family responsibilities”.
2. Simon Rouse was the Tory candidate for Nuneaton (Lab majority 3843). He resigned in July again citing family reasons. "It is with great regret that Nuneaton Conservatives have to announce that Simon Rouse has tendered his resignation as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Nuneaton. Sadly, Simon has decided that the inevitably heavy demands upon him as a candidate for a seat as important as Nuneaton are incompatible with his responsibility to his family”.
3. Elly Jupp was the Tory candidate for Hayes & Harlington. She resigned in October saying "It is with deep regret that I today announce that I will not stand as the Conservative candidate for Hayes and Harlington at the next General Election. I remain determined the Conservatives win this seat. I don't want to go into the detail of my decision other than to say it is for personal reasons”.
4. John Woodward resigned as the Tory candidate for Camborne and Redruth in October, citing the economic downturn. The Tories are in third place in this three way marginal seat, (2005 results; Con 12644, 14861 Lab, 16747 LDs).
5. Kevin Hollinrake resigned as the Tory candidate for Dewsbury in October saying he has resigned to concentrate on his business. Kevin Hollinrake is founder and head of the Yorkshire estate agents Hunters Property Group. He was selected to fight the seat last July. Labour MP Shahid Malik's notional majority in the constituency is slightly less than 5,000.
6. David Potts has resigned as the Tory candidate in Edinburgh South West (Alistair Darling’s seat). In September ‘The Evening News’ revealed that he was facing deselection by the local association who were unhappy at his alleged failure to turn up at events. But now Mr Potts, 25, has written to the local party saying he is resigning. In his letter, he said: "You will be aware of the health issues concerning my father, which has challenged my ability to service the constituency as much as I would have hoped." He also cited "strong commitments in Tyneside".
7. Alf Doran resigned as the Tory candidate in Chorley in May. The local association said “Alf Doran had to retire from the Police service having been involved in a motorcycle accident in the early 1990’s; from this further medical attention is now required. Because of the unpredictability of the timing of the future treatment with extended convalescence, Alf has considered that his treatment would harm the prospects of an effective election campaign here in Chorley."
Could a poll from the ‘ConservativeHome’ website shed some light on the phenomenon?
A ConservativeHome survey of 125 adopted candidates tested the quality of support that they receive:
·67% said mutual aid from other associations was poor or very poor.
·59% said the timeliness of financial support from CCHQ was poor or very poor.
There is clearly a problem with the Tory candidates not getting the support they expect from their party, after all, not all of them have a spare £90,000 a year to fund their own campaign as Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park reportedly does.
Perhaps the new ‘A List’ candidates without much background in the party didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for when they put themselves forward for selection?
But is there something else slightly more unusual going on? Could Conservative Central Office or Tory paymaster and Deputy Chairman Lord Ashcroft be conducting a purge of candidates that no longer fit the bill, withdrawing their support from candidates who are not making the grade organisationally or whose faces don’t fit politically?