The Tories lost the Bedford Mayoral election, counted today. This was after them making a big fuss about selecting their candidate by what they called a "primary" but was in fact an open caucus meeting (a primary is a selection ballot run either at polling stations or by post, not just a vote at a public meeting, however large). In this case it was affected by a very old-fashioned case of what the Australians call "branch stacking" - one candidate packing the meeting with family and friends, in this case from a specific ethnic/faith minority but it could as easily have been packing it with fellow trade unionists or WI or NFU members.
Perhaps now the rather silly debate over primaries will end, as the Tory model has been proven to produce election-losing candidates.
I find it particularly odd that Progress has spent so much time promoting the idea of primaries when there is no prospect of Labour adopting them because real ones cost £40,000 per constituency to run and no such resources exist in our party.
Activists in all parties would be better advised to put effort into recruiting members to their parties, so they become larger, better funded and more representative of the public, rather than naively speculating about importing US organisational models that were developed for specific US reasons (e.g. the absence of organised party structures between elections, elections that focus on candidate rather than party and the need to end the Tammany Hall boss politics that had previously controlled candidate selection).
David Cameron ought to think about copying some of Barack Obama's policies, such as deficit-funding a massive fiscal stimulus - the opposite of the Tory economic approach, rather than trying to be a British Obama by appropriating the word "change" and trying a few organisational gimmicks like these "pretend primaries".