James Forsyth

Totnes trouble for the Tories

Totnes trouble for the Tories
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If you want to know why party managers don’t like open primaries look at page 26 of today’s Guardian. There Sarah Wollaston, the GP who won the Tory open primary in Totnes, warns that Andrew Lansley needs to watch out if his NHS reforms are not to turn into privatisation by the back door.

The piece is, to put it mildly, unhelpful from a Tory perspective. For a Tory MP, and one who was a GP, to suggest that Tory health policy could lead to a privatisation of the NHS is a gift to Labour. It is also the last thing that Andrew Lansley needs given the u-turn he has been forced into over a public awareness campaign about the flu and the mounting concerns over his reform plans.

But Wollaston, who had no political experience prior to becoming an MP, is far less bound to her party than those who have served as advisors or councilors. Also having been selected by the public rather than the party she has her own power base. All of which is why party managers don’t like open primaries.