Posted on This is My Truth on 5 August
A week and a half after the selection meeting the Western Mail finally reports this morning on David Melding's failure to be selected in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Nick Bourne is quoted as saying "This year we have made changes to many of our selection procedures in a bid to broaden the appeal and support of our Assembly candidates. In the seats selected so far we have a diverse range of candidates, with considerable political, community and business experience".
Indeed in Wrexham diversity has encompassed the sandal wearing community. John Marek ( ex-Forward Wales, ex-Independent, ex-Labour) was selected as the Conservative candidate in an open primary. Though not the first choice of the activists in Wrexham (for understandable reasons) he won as a result of the second preferences of members of the public who turned up at the public meeting - 26 people in total.
In the Vale of Glamorgan the Conservative Association didn't fancy giving up their exclusive power of selection. They opted for a curious model where the whole membership were invited to a meeting to hear from the aspirant candidates and then select the shortlist. But the final decision was made the by the executive committee of the local party - a group of some 25 people. This is the reverse of what happens in most parties.
Clearly some in this magic circle had some issues with David Melding and we can only speculate what they were. In a typically understated response he is quoted as saying “I was asked about my position on the referendum by party members during the hustings meeting, but I don’t know whether that was material to the result".
Candidate selection in all parties can be an arbitary affair. I've blogged before on the quirks in Labour's selection process. The Conservatives deserve praise for opening up the selection of candidates to the wider community. It is a brave decision and though it is open to abuse it has the potential to open up the system. But it needs to be applied evenly. It is little more than a token gesture if in Wales it is only adopted by seats the party does not expect to win.