It’s been a turbulent couple of weeks in the Horsham Conservative Party, that’s for sure.
First Francis Maude announces (rather late) that he’s stepping down, and then the party deselects two of its biggest names.
The Conservative council cabinet seems to be rather unpopular, so perhaps the local Conservative Party has seen that its councillors have dragged it into disrepute through their closed meetings and unpopular decisions, and are determined to make a change themselves. This is a good thing.
There was one very interesting point in the full Conservative Party statement, which may have passed people by.
It said, ‘The Conservative Party runs a free, open and democratic selection process for candidates at all levels’.
The implication here is that the local party intends to hold an open primary for their Westminster candidate.
If this is true, it cannot be stressed enough that perhaps the only real choice Horsham gets is to choose who that candidate is.
I urge the local Conservative Party to publicise its selection meeting for the Westminster candidate as widely as they can, so that local people can have a say in who represents them at the highest level.
Going back to the council though, I was lucky enough last weekend to see a talk by Peter MacFadyen, the mayor of Frome in Somerset.
At the last election, a group of independent councillors took control of the council; not people interested in power or elections, but people interested in making their town a better place.
He pointed out that the party candidates that did get in continued to bicker amongst themselves, leaving the independents to get on with making things better.
It was an inspiring story, and one that shows how accessible local politics is.
Horsham needs something similar. The old parties, with their arbitrary loyalties, whips and point-scoring, are outdated.
I would love Horsham to follow Frome’s example and elect a new set of councillors who don’t conform to the old party thinking.
Politics isn’t the preserve of some special few. If you care, stand up for what you believe in. I’ll see you at the count, and just maybe we can change politics together.
Horsham Parliamentary Candidate for Something New, Greenfinch Way, Horsham