Alex Massie

The Totnes Thunderbolt?

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Well, perhaps. And perhaps I was too cynical about the idea of open primaries* being used to select Conservative candidates. Better ti listen to and consider the wisdom of Matthew Parris. A turnout of around 25% is quite impressive for an exercise of this sort even if one might also presume that the novelty of being the first constituency to hold such a contest played a part in boosting enthusiasm.

Dr Sarah Wollaston's victory over two local politicians might be taken as reflecting an anti-politician mood, but it remains to be seen if that sense endures once the Totnes experiement is repeated in other constitutencies. Once the novelty has worn off or if enthusiasm and turnout declines then such contests seem likely to enhance the prospects of local worthies and cooncillors, rather than bringing fresh ideas and fresh blood into politics.

One would like to be wrong about that. If so, then perhaps Totnes really is a mini-watershed in British politics.It would be nice to think so...

*Open in as much as, in this instance, every voter in the constituency could cast a ballot; closed in as much as choices were restricted to three candidates pre-approved by the Conservatives.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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