Wednesday 9 June 2010

Z-listers revenge

The new North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen is carving out a solid “no-nonsense Tory” reputation for himself.

There was a joke going around that Bridgen had started a new backbench group of MPs, “the Z-listers” – a jibe at David Cameron’s “A-listers”.

Those on the A-list were given priority treatment when it came to choosing who would represent the Conservatives in more winnable seats at the election.

It was set up in a bid to diversify the Parliamentary Tory party and it included more women, ethnic minority and gay candidates – but critics claimed it also contained celebrities and ‘well-connected’ individuals.

But behind the “Z-lister” joke Bridgen told Lobbydog there is a more serious issue at stake.

“I’m totally in favour of working to get more women and ethnic minority candidates selected. If that means giving people extra support to maximise their performance and chances of being selected, then it should be given.

“But I think it is dangerous to say that there are some people in the party that are particularly special. I think setting up an A-list could be seen as divisive.”

He added: “I know that some of the Z-listers won very good majorities at the election. It would be interesting to do a proper analysis of the figures to see what kind of majorities different candidates won.”

There were seats where A-list candidates lost out when trying to overturn majorities smaller than those overturned by so-called Z-listers.

Whether that is because A-listers felt they didn’t need to work as hard, or because Tory voters did not respond to them, or other reasons, I’ll leave the Tories to argue out.

I’ve no doubt however that some in the party are asking whether the Tories would have taken a bigger number of seats in the Commons had the A-list not existed.

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