Dominic Grieve, Beaconsfield’s current Tory MP, lost a local constituency association confidence motion by 182 to 131 against him. The Beaconsfield Conservative Association chairman says that, “He remains our Conservative MP but I will be speaking as soon as possible to my fellow officers and the Executive Council.” A vote of no confidence is not a deselection.
Grieve is a decent man, we all agree, courageous even. To ignore your supporters and act against their wishes has consequences in a democracy. Deselections are always unpleasant, without them or at least the threat of them, MPs would be completely untethered from their supporters. MPs of all parties often arrogantly detest their activist members, who generally tend to be politically further away from the mainstream and their own ordinary voters. This tension is always there, sometimes the link snaps. This is such a time.
Grieve’s arrogance was that he thought he could shift from promising his members – in writing – that he would respect the outcome of the referendum, to leading the efforts to thwart Brexit, without cost. Breaking your word to voters, particularly the ones who get out the vote for you, is risky.
George Osborne tweeted this morning that Dominic Grieve had been “deselected”, going on to say “The Tory leadership can stop any deselection if it wants – we frequently did. CCHQ should suspend the local party. Otherwise we are heading for a huge, historic split in the Tory Party.” As a matter of fact Osborne has got it wrong, Grieve has not been deselected – yet. It is a bit rich Osborne, who has been campaigning to get rid of the leader of the Conservative Party since 2017, now calling for party unity. It is also more than galling when a Tory grandee says the little people who deliver leaflets, raise funds, vote for the party should be ignored and steam-rollered. Assuming of course that Osborne is still even a Conservative Party member…
UPDATE: Some groups like Leave.EU have been trying to claim the credit for Grieve’s deselection – local members strongly dispute the idea that they had anything to do with it, although Guido understands that the grassroots Campaign for Conservative Democracy was involved. A local Tory source tells Guido:
“Last night was a case of local members, most of whom have been members for years, finally getting organised and rising up. It has nothing to do with so-called “blue wave entryism” which isn’t even a thing. We’ve seen no real rise in membership numbers at all to suggest it could have any sort of impact.
“The principal reason Beaconsfield members voted against Grieve was that they felt he had been dishonest with them; promising at his last re-selection meeting to honour the referendum result, and then doing everything he could to thwart it. It’s his duplicity which has led to this motion passing.”