Last week Guido reported that Wendy Morton faced a challenge getting re-selected. In the event CCHQ came to the rescue of Wendy Morton at the selection meeting held for the new Aldridge-Brownhills Constituency. Guido’s local co-conspirator recounts how the meeting and the voting went:
The meeting was held on Saturday at the unusually early time of 10 a.m. at a venue previously unknown to many members. In the days before the meeting members had raised with Black Country Area concerns over the make-up of the Selection meeting. Three wards which have a low membership are organised into one branch yet each ward in that branch was allocated three places at the meeting. Besides the Assocation Chair and Deputy Chairs the President and secretary were allocated votes also, these positions are usually in an Association considered honorary or appointments. By contrast the wards in the south of the constituency, which are largely considered to be against the re-selection of Ms Morton had their places limited.
Streetly Ward which has a membership of over 50 and the ward where Councillor Suky Samra belongs had no votes. Councillor Samra has called publicly for Ms Morton to stand aside. One member was unable to attend due to the timing as was another member from Aldridge Central Branch. They were allowed no substitutes. The two other members from Streetly were informed because they live outside the ward, they are unable to have a vote. Two members from Streetly put themselves forward as substitutes and this was agreed by the Conservative Area Office at Burton on Trent. Black Country Area receiving complaints agreed to look into the eligibility of those voting at the meeting however CCHQ stepped in and despite the Black Country overseeing all the other selection meetings in the area parachuted an officer from West Midlands Region, Matty Haven to chair the meeting.
Hours before the meeting the two Streetly substitute members were told they had registered ‘too late’ and could not attend. Therefore, Streetly Branch ended up with no members at the meeting. At the meeting a member tried to raise the matter of the letter of no confidence in the MP signed by around 100 Aldridge-Brownhills members, was ruled out of order and the letter not discussed. Despite the best efforts of CCHQ however the vote was not unanimous. The result probably 17 for 5 against.
A long-standing former party member and associate of the previous MP, Sir Richard Shepherd, on hearing of the result says, “the clowns at CCHQ may get the candidates they want, but they won’t get the workers”. Another source concedes CCHQ may have tipped the scales, though insists she would have won a membership vote regardless.