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Friday, February 17, 2006

Tories in disarray (again)

David Cameron's new style Conservative Party struck again last night when a Conservative candidate for the 2007 assembly elections who once said gays had a "medical mental condition" quit, a day after being selected.

John Jenkins, 25, blamed "speculation" about the comments on a website three years ago for his decision to resign "in the interests of the party". He was to stand in Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South next year.

As interesting as this decision is, there do remain some unanswered questions that lead me to believe that this 'resignation' had nothing to do with principle and everything to do with avoiding an unpleasant public relations disaster. Firstly, if John Jenkins is so unacceptable in today's Tory Party then why is he allowed to continue as an official Conservative on Carmarthenshire County Council and as Deputy Chair of his regional party organisation? Secondly, why was he approved as a candidate in the first place and allowed to go all the way through shortlisting and ultimately selection?

If David Cameron really wants to send a message about the way he is allegedly changing his party then he needs to address those issues as well. One of the reasons why he will not do so lies in the decision to select John Jenkins. For, despite having full knowledge of his views and his past indiscretion, the Conservative Members of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire still chose him to represent them. Perhaps a more root and branch purge is needed!
Peter, very interesting observation regarding my resignation as the Conservative candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

You are indeed right, I was pre-approved by the Board of the Welsh Conservative Party to be able to apply for constituency nominations for the 2007 Welsh Assembly elections. I was also selected with over 80% of the vote at a meeting of members of the local Conservative Association to be their candidate.

All these people knew of my reputation - which I will repeat again for your benefit - was a hatchet job by the Western Mail/BBC Wales back in 2003 whereby they seriously distorted my comments to make me (and the Conservative Party) look like some foaming at the mouth right wing nut job.

I was pre-approved by the Welsh Conservative Party and selected legitimately by a local Conservative Association but when Colonial-Governor Cameron saw the potential for trouble and the possible tarnishing of his oh-so-perfect image he panicked and demanded my head on a plate, which I gave him voluntarily along with the two ripped halves of my Conservative Party membership card.

If my own side won't even support me when I have done nothing wrong then they are not a Party worth associating with. To be honest I expect you and the Lib Dems, Labour and Plaid to have a dig, you are only doing your job as part of the (dare I say it) Punch & Judy politics sideshow.

So your comments are a little inaccurate but that is excusable being a member of another political party and now knowing the full story but, yes, you are right, the Conservative Party knew all about my baggage - The Chairman, President, Director and Leader of the Welsh Conservative Party are all members of the Board of the Welsh Conservative Party and could have vetoed by pre-approval if they wanted to but they knew I was not a raving mad homophobe so pre-approved me.

If there is only one thing that this incident proves is not that the Conservative Party is made up of homophobic loonies but that the strings of the Welsh Conservative Party are being firmly pulled from London and surely that is of far more consequence and importance in the run-up to the next Welsh Assembly elections than the inconsequential fate of an ex-Tory councillor from Llanelli?
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