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Tories to stage 'open primary' in Totnes

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: July 10, 2009

Cameron goes to the polls to choose new candidate

Anthony Steen has stepped dwon

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THE Tory candidate to replace ousted Totnes MP Anthony Steen will be chosen by every voter in the constituency.

Conservative leader David Cameron will allow each of the seat's 69,000 registered voters to cast their vote to decide who will fight the next election for him.

The position became vacant after Mr Steen announced he will retire on polling day, in the wake of revelations about his expenses.

Over four years he claimed almost £87,000 for the upkeep of his million-pound Devon mansion, including guarding shrubs from rabbits, fencing off fields near stables and overhauling his private sewerage system.

Announcing his retirement, Mr Steen claimed he was the victim of "jealousy" over his home, which he likened to Balmoral. He later apologised after suggesting the public had no right to "interfere with his private life".

The Totnes seat has a notional majority of 2,693 going into the next election, and is seen as a key vacancy for high-flying Tory figures to gain a seat in Parliament.

By opening up the selection of the party's candidate to all voters – including supporters of other parties and none – it will raise their profile with less than a year before the election.

Mr Cameron said: "This is the first time any political party in Britain has sought the views of the voters in such a direct way.

"It is an exciting opportunity to re-engage with the voters in Totnes and give them a real say in who will be the Conservative candidate at the next election.

"I hope people will take part in this unique chance to have a real say over how politics works and who represents them."

Scores of people are thought to have applied for the vacancy, with a shortlist of 11 drawn up by the local association.

This weekend the names will be whittled down to between two and four. Ballot papers, with campaign leaflets from each candidate, will be sent out over the summer.

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    a g rawlings, truro  |  July 10 2009, 2:15PM

    Sorry should have been he.

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    a g rawlings, truro  |  July 10 2009, 2:13PM

    How about another saying that refers to parliment, COMMON SENSE IS NOT SO COMMON. Alan this one might suit your feelings, HIS WHO EXPECTS NOTHING SHALL NEVER BE DISAPPOINTED.

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    Charles Henry 1945-(diuturnity), Somersetshire  |  July 10 2009, 1:50PM

    :| The Free Masons are just an association of gentlemen compared to the destructive forces let loose these last ten years by New-Labour. . . The organisation that has wreaked havoc and brought this country to its knees is THE FABIAN SOCIETY. . With its ethos of 'GRADULISM', (that is just 'deceit' spelt a different way) they have created problems that will now take 3 generations at least to put right, and for the debt to be cleared. . If only people had listened to Thomas Gray when he wrote the words, "Not all that tempts your wandering eyes And heedless hearts is lawful prize, Nor all that glisters gold."

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    Alan, Paignton  |  July 10 2009, 12:52PM

    I refer to the Conservatives staging an 'Open Primary' in Totnes seeking a replacement candidate for Anthony Steen. The recent MPs expenses scandal is but the tip of the iceberg of the problems which can and still do exist causing further financial burden for the tax payer. Transparency is a must for the individuals making up the political and commercial high flyers who help to run or ruin this great country. Openess and transparency should be the 'menu of the day' and too many of these people are members of secret societies as the 'Freemasons'. The Councils, Police, MPs, Members of the Law and many others in high positions of trust are recruited into these 'jobs for the boys' societies. It is time the public were made aware of these people. A secret society is exactly what it says, SECRET. Originally created to protect the livelihood of members of the circle against outside influences. This still rings true today with only members benefitting from other members within the circle. Therefore, one cannot be a member of the society and be completely impartial. This would go against the policies of the circle but would also be detrimental to their employers, the general public. I am not talking about the egotistical sheep influenced by their own illusions on the lower levels of masonry. These lower level persons have to pay substantial sums into the coffers so that the society can donate to a charity with the inevitable praise from the public. On higher levels of course the opposite is at work where much greater sums of money are manipulated. Even some members of the lower echalons are not aware of this. Both side of my family are or have been freemasons since the end of WW2 So I do believe I know something of what goes on and in fact much of what is about to happen during the next 6 months or so. Before you good people of Totnes vote for a candidate please I beg you to write to David Cameron and request him to ensure that any candidate who is a member of a secret society must frankly admit it. This may be your last chance to right many wrongs and Totnes could be historically remembered as the town which made the country a better place to live.

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