South Suffolk Conservative MP Tim Yeo has been de-selected and will now not stand for the Tories in the 2015 General Election.
As reported a few weeks ago, Tim Yeo faced a re-selection vote by the entire Conservative Party membership of his South Suffolk constituency association after the Executive committee voted to de-select him back in November.
The results were counted today at the Party’s London HQ and it was confirmed Mr Yeo had lost the confidence of South Suffolk members. He will now not stand again as their parliamentary candidate and as it is highly unlikely he will seek selection in another constituency his political career is over.
Speaking after the vote was announced Mr Yeo said:
“It has been a privilege to serve as MP for South Suffolk since 1983. I will continue to work for all my constituents until the General Election next year.
“I am immensely grateful to all those Conservative Party members who voted for me to continue as their MP. I now ask them all to campaign for my successor with the same loyalty and dedication they have shown to me.
“I will give my full and unqualified support to whoever is chosen as the candidate here in South Suffolk. I wish him or her every success.”
Turnout in the membership vote was 82% but Conservative Party HQ will not release a breakdown of the figures. Suffolk Suffolk Tories will now start the process to select a new candidate to represent the Conservative Party at the next General Election, which is just over a year away. Local commentators are calling for an Open Primary but this may not go down so well in a traditional rural seat. Whichever selection model is chosen, the decision needs to be quick to ensure the candidate can get stuck into campaigning as soon as possible as the seat is not as safe as it once was. The Labour candidate, Jane Basham, is already out of the blocks and has been canvassing support for months. There could be an even bigger upset here come May 2015.
Today’s news comes after another Conservative, Anne McIntosh, was de-selected by the members of her Yorkshire constituency on Friday.
Tim Yeo’s de-selection is not just a blow to him (although his lucrative business interests boosted by his parliamentary position will undoubtedly soften his fall) but is also embarrassing to the Tory leader, David Cameron. The PM personally backed Mr Yeo during his fight to hang on to South Suffolk – the membership then duly told Mr Cameron what they thought of his man.
Conservative Associations are no longer a reflection of the parliamentary party but more a representation of the true blue Tory who a lot of time find themselves disagreeing with their own party’s policies – such as gay marriage and more wind farms – forced on them by the metropolitan elite in Westminster. Many Tory MPs (especially the new intake of 2010) are canny at being able to play both hands: charming their members and agreeing with Conservative values in the constituency but once safely back in Westminster keeping the leadership onside by voting for policies which the same members never campaigned for. The problem with Tim Yeo is he was useless at the former and South Suffolk finally lost patience.