Conservative Party (UK) parliamentary primaries

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Since 2009, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has experimented with the use of open primaries to select some parliamentary candidates.[1]

Three primaries were held ahead of the 2010 general election in Oxford West & Abingdon, Totnes and Gosport. So far at least 12 primaries have been held ahead of the 2015 general election.

For the 2010 general election[edit]

Michael Ellis was selected for Northampton North in 2006.



Totnes was the first constituency to use an open primary to select the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. The election was held in August 2009 and saw a turnout of approximately 25%. Due to the success of this primary election, David Cameron announced that the system would be applied to other constituencies in future.[2] Dr Sarah Wollaston, a general practitioner, was selected with 48% of the vote.[3] Wollaston went on to be elected MP for Totnes at the 2010 general election.



Gosport held an open primary to select a candidate to succeed Peter Viggers upon his retirement from Westminster.[4][5] The election was held in December 2009. Caroline Dinenage, a local business owner and daughter of Fred Dinenage, was selected with 38% of the vote. Dinenage was elected MP for Gosport at the 2010 general election, with an increased majority.

Clacton by-election, 2014[edit]

The 2014 Clacton by-election, caused by the defection from the Conservatives of Douglas Carswell, a prominent advocate of open primaries, selected actor Giles Watling over Colchester councillor Sue Lissimore on 11 September.[6][7]

Rochester and Strood by-election, 2014[edit]

The candidate for the 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election, caused by the defection from the Conservative Party of Mark Reckless to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), was chosen by a postal open primary.[8] Kelly Tolhurst, a local councillor, narrowly won over fellow councillor Anna Firth. Tolhurst lost the by-election to Reckless, but later won the seat at the following year's general election.

For the 2015 general election[edit]

Constituency Main article Date of final selection Candidate chosen Conservative seat before 2015 election Candidate elected in 2015?
Berwick-upon-Tweed[9] Feb 2013 Anne-Marie Trevelyan No Yes
Boston and Skegness[10] 25 Oct 2014 Matt Warman Yes Yes
Croydon South[11] 12 Nov 2013 Chris Philp Yes Yes
Hampstead and Kilburn Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative primary, 2013 30 January 2013 Simon Marcus No No
Louth and Horncastle[12] 28 July 2014 Victoria Atkin Yes Yes
Mid Worcestershire[13] 22 November 2013 Nigel Huddleston Yes Yes
North East Hampshire[14] 17 November 2013 Ranil Jayawardena Yes Yes
South East Cambridgeshire[15] 7 December 2013 Lucy Frazer QC[16] Yes Yes
Tonbridge and Malling[17] 2 November 2013 Colonel Tom Tugendhat Yes Yes
Twickenham[18] 5 September 2013 Dr Tania Mathias No Yes
Wealden[19] 5 December 2013 Nusrat Ghani Yes Yes
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine[20] 10 March 2014 Alexander Burnett No No
Yeovil[21] July 2013 Marcus Fysh No Yes


  1. ^ Hannan, Daniel (2013-10-19). "Open primaries are spreading unremarked across local Conservative Associations – Telegraph Blogs". Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  2. ^ "David Cameron reiterates Tory opposition to Tony Blair becoming EU President". ConservativeHome. October 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Tory backbencher Anthony Steen to stand down following expenses revelations". The Guardian. May 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Gosport voters to get open primary on replacing Peter Viggers". The Daily Telegraph. October 29, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Dinenage to succeed duck house MP as Tory candidate". BBC News. December 4, 2009. 
  6. ^ "TORY 'open primary' candidates for Clacton by-election are Frinton actor Giles Watling and Colchester councillor Sue Lissimore". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. 
  7. ^ "Two candidates shortlisted for the Clacton by-election". Conservative Home. 
  8. ^ By-election update: All voters to get chance to have a say in choosing Tory successor to Mark Reckless in Rochester and Strood KentOnLine
  9. ^ "Tories adopt Trevelyan at open primary". Berwick Advertiser. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  10. ^ Boston Standard,
  11. ^ "Croydon South candidates are put through their doorstep paces with a canvassing test". Conservative Home. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  12. ^ Louth Leader,
  13. ^ "Mwca Parliamentary Candidate Selection | Mid Worcestershire". 2013-10-10. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  14. ^ Stephen Lloyd. "Deputy council leader chosen as Tory candidate to replace Arbuthnot". Get Hampshire. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  15. ^ Paul Goodman (2013-11-24). "The final four for South East Cambridgeshire". Conservative Home. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  16. ^ "Lucy Frazer chosen as Conservative candidate for South East Cambridgeshire". Conservative Home. 
  17. ^ Francis, Paul (2013-11-15). "Conservative officials to hold 'open primary' to select candidate to replace Tonbridge and Malling MP Sir John Stanley". Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  18. ^ "The Conservative Party | News | News | Dr Tania Mathias chosen to stand up for local people in Twickenham". 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  19. ^ "You choose! | Wealden". 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  20. ^ "Scots Tories to trial US 'primary' election system". The Scotsman. 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  21. ^ "The Conservative Party | News | News | Marcus Fysh selected for Yeovil". 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2013-11-22.