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22 February 2010

Leaked Tory document exposes façade of change

Document encourages officials to "trick" activists into selecting more gay and ethnic-minority candi

By George Eaton

I’m amazed that the leaked Conservative document advising local officials on how to “trick” grass-roots activists into selecting more female, gay and ethnic-minority candidates hasn’t received more attention. So far the Daily Mail is the only national newspaper to pick up the story.

The document, Action Plan for Candidate Selection in Safe Seats, encourages party officials to use “stealth” and to keep “quiet” over plans to diversify candidate selection. “Like a conjuror, we’ll get more applause if the audience cannot see exactly how the trick is performed,” it says.

It adds:

Most Tories loathe political correctness and positive discrimination. If one tries to be “in your face” about the fact that positive discrimination is taking place activists are much more likely to rebel; a version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is called for.

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A point which rather undermines the recent claim by Michael Gove, the author of the document, that opposition to David Cameron’s modernising agenda is limited to “one or two backwoodsmen”.

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Unlike Tony Blair, who relished open confrontation with his own party, Cameron prefers to avoid direct challenges to the Tory grass roots. But as the Joanne Cash affair most recently demonstrated, he is only storing up problems for the future.

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