Primary elections

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NOBODY who has followed the career of Sir Peter Bottomley, Worthing West MP, will be the least bit surprised that he thinks it’s a good idea to give the vote to criminals.

And, of course, he has every right to vote in Parliament how he pleases. In a way it is refreshing that there are some MPs who are brave enough to vote against the conventional wisdom.

But I expect most of his constituents will be appalled that Sir Peter has associated them with a cause they deplore.

May I suggest a course of action that might make news like this is less likely in the future?

Let’s introduce primary elections along American lines.

Tory leader David Cameron has suggested that there should be primaries, but his version of the idea is not a good one.

Cameron wants primaries to include anyone in the constituency registered to vote.

But widening the franchise like this would inevitably produce bland and middle-of-the-road candidates who can easily appear to be all things to all people – like Sir Peter in fact.

To avoid this, primaries must be open only to party members, like most in America.

Any registered party member could stand.

This would likely generate some feisty, edgy, interesting local candidates.

Not clones from central casting the local party bigwigs, gathering in secret in smoke-filled rooms, might appoint.

This would also eliminate Conservative Central Office’s control of the candidates list.

The primary election would take place a month or two before every general election.

The candidate would have to seek the support of all party members before each election.

That might inject more openness into our democracy, and make sure local Conservatives could force out the likes of Sir Peter, who under the current system can be imposed on us even when his sell-by date has long since expired.

Neil Winton

Steep Lane