|"If the Tories do not put more women in the Commons soon, the voters might not return more Tory men."|
The right of Associations to choose their PPCs has always been sacrosanct, and I generally think this is a good thing, but it becomes a liability when local grassroots membership is so out of step with trends in wider British society. I've talked about this before in another context (ad nauseam, mine, in fact), but it is a problem that the Party will somehow have to solve if it is to re-engage with a larger segment of the electorate.
Even on a day when Tony Blair was wrong-footed by Michael Howard at PMQs, because of the apparent fratricidal conflict between Blair and Gordon Brown, the inability of the Tories to improve their poll ratings serves to confirm the increasing irrelevance of the Party in British politics. Unless something dramatic happens, and soon, I fear that the long-forecast meltdown may not be far away. And it is Blair, and he alone, who will choose the date of the General Election.