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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Same old Tories

The Sunday Times reports that even on the eve of the General Election David Cameron continues to have troubles with his backwoodsmen, who seemed determined to prevent him modernising the Tories.

Sam Gyimah, 33, an entrepreneur who was chosen to fight the safe seat of East Surrey, has faced smears over his business dealings.

Last Monday Gyimah’s enemies succeeded in forcing an emergency meeting of the local Conservative association to consider whether he should be removed as a candidate.

Supporters of Gyimah, who was president of the Oxford Union and is a member of the party’s “A-list” of preferred candidates, claim the deselection attempt was racially motivated. “There is a Taliban tendency in East Surrey,” said a senior Tory from the area. “They lurk in the forests of the North Downs, waiting to fire their missiles. These are the sort of people who start sentences by saying, ‘I’m not racist but . . .’”

Although Gyimah has so far fended off the attempt to deselect him, the row is potentially embarrassing for Cameron, who is keen to portray his party as “modern” and “progressive”.

The dispute follows an attempt by Tories in South West Norfolk to deselect Elizabeth Truss, another A-lister, after it emerged she had had an affair with a married Conservative MP.

Cameron's problem is that episodes such as this cast doubt over how much control he really exerts over his party and whether the changes he has introduced are far-reaching or just skin deep. If Tory activists can openly defy his attempts to reform the party this close to the election then how can we have any confidence it will not be the same-old-same-old afterwards?
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