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Representative and Participatory Democracy and the issue of Deselection

4 Apr 2019

Representative and Participatory Democracy and the issue of Deselection

Grassroots Conservatives have received a copy of the letter below addressed to the Conservative Party Chairman from a member of the Party objecting to his intervention in the deselection of Dominic Grieve.  Mr Fitzgerald has given us permission to publish it on the website. 

His letter raises an important point about our democracy.

De-selection is a matter of gross misconduct which, arguably, this is not.  The root of the current mess is a conflict between representative and participative democracy.  Normally, MP’s are not delegates but representatives, whom we elect to exercise their judgement.  If we are unhappy with that judgement, we do not re-elect them.  In effect, it is a short-term benevolent dictatorship, which works alright if everyone understands it as such. 

However, the referendum was an exercise in participative democracy whereby MPs, as delegates, implement our decision.  The challenge is that MPs do not regard themselves as delegates and are very uncomfortable implementing a decision which a majority of them believe to be wrong.     

The rules governing de-selection are written to cover representative democracy, so do not include disagreement over policy which, in essence, this is.  However we note that at the end of the Government Referendum leaflet there was a clear statement “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide”.

It does put in sharp focus those MPs who are doing everything to stop Brexit.  To argue about the form of it and what it entails is one thing, but denying the wishes of the people who were given the responsibility by Parliament is unacceptable to most. David Cameron did the honourable thing and resigned as PM because he could not, favouring Remain himself, stay on as PM as an MP.

Tim Montgomerie wrote in the Times on Monday April 1 “The vast majority of the local members who withdrew their confidence from Mr Grieve on Friday night are of long standing.  They did so after a triple whammy of political fraud on the biggest political issue of our times.  Mr Grieve supported the initial legislation that enabled the EU referendum; then triggered the Article 50 legislation used by MPs at the general election to indicate their seriousness about honouring the 52 per cent vote; and, most significantly, he used his election address to explicitly promise to enact Brexit.

Mr Grieve wants no Brexit at all.

The weekend’s most striking development was not the entirely justifiable decision of party members but the outrage of the amalgamated union of the Westminster political village at the notion that one of their chums in the safe seats club should be punished for serial promise-breaking.

Parliament’s refusal to deliver Brexit, of which Mr Grieve has been a principal accomplice, has jeopardised voters’ belief in Tory trustworthiness. Only May has done more damage to the Tory — and Brexit — cause. But at least she did not do it deliberately.” ENDS

Various key figures expressed shock horror and then support for Dominic Grieve but the motion of no confidence is just that. Come the next general election the association will have an adoption meeting. If Dominic Grieve stands and is rejected that is the point at which CCHQ would probably intervene. They cannot invalidate a motion passed when the association is formally constituted.

The CCHQ override of Association decisions raises the old chestnut of CCHQ centralisation of power. When Anna Soubry’s Constituency Chairman instigated a survey of his membership he was forced to withdraw it.  It just confirms how controlling CCHQ have become and how little regard they have for their chairmen and other activists. Nor should we forget the motion moved by the Chairman of Bow, that was carried by an emphatic majority of 75/15 at the Spring Forum’s National Convention. Conservative Home reported at the time that this should be on every Association AGM.

Brandon Lewis MP

Conservative Party Chairman

House of Commons

London SW1A 0AA


Dear Mr.Lewis

Dominic Grieve MP

I was appalled to read that you have intervened in the case of Dominic Grieve MP’s proposed de-selection by the Beaconsfield Conservative Association. Despite whatever he may have done in the past, his actions over Brexit have been deplorable and shabby. He was elected on the Conservative manifesto which clearly stated the following in the section entitled “ Leaving the Union”

 _Invoking Article 50 – after much deliberation this was passed in March 2017 by 498 to 114. Ken Clark was the only Conservative to vote against it whilst Grieve voted in favour. The crucial element of Article 50 was that in the event of a failure to agree a deal, the default was departing the EU with no deal.

 _The UK would control its own laws and immigration.

 _The UK would no longer be in Single Market or the Customs Union.

 _Global Champion of Free Trade –the UK will be a global champion for an open economy, free trade and the free flow of investment, ideas and information. We believe we must seek the opportunities it has to forge a trade and investment opportunities around the world, building a global and outward looking Britain.

 _It is the purpose of this Conservative Party, in responding to this historic vote on our membership of the EU to re-establish faith in our democracy and in our democratic and legal institutions.

The people of the UK have laboured for too long under the illusion that we live in a democracy. We do not, and your MP, Dominic Grieve, is the living proof. The Establishment, regardless of political parties, has colluded for decades to keep the People within the EU. The Liberal party, most of the Labour party and large elements of the Conservative party have been pooling their resources since the referendum to keep us in the EU despite a democratic referendum result of 52% leave to 48% remain. They have swept democracy to one side. As stated by all Remainers, Grieve commented that “the decision must be respected”. Empty words from a shallow politician.

It is incumbent on all MPs to respect the wishes of the People and deliver a Brexit which removes all political, judicial and financial links with the EU. It is no longer the right of a political party or individual MP to choose to ignore this result. An amendment to the Government’s Trade Bill, tabled by the Tory remainers including Grieve, Clarke, Sandbach, Bebb, Lee, Allen, Neil, Soubry, Djanogly, Morgan, Hammond, and Wollaston was intended to force the government to default to membership of the EU’s Customs Union if the Brexit talks failed. Fortunately four Labour MPs used their votes to block the amendment designed to seal us into the Customs Union. Grieve played his shabby role in this action and has failed the Conservative manifesto test.

We have now reached a crossroads in both the Brexit negotiations and our crumbling democracy. Your action plus that of Theresa May in over-ruling the Beaconsfield Conservative Association is seriously de-stabilising the UK. Our future is looking very bleak and there could be a complete breakdown in law and order as the electorate has now lost all respect for the rule of Government - you will have played your part in this.

Finally, you need to understand that you and these malcontents have split the Conservative party in two and the next election could bring about a total collapse in the Conservative party leading to a Marxist government under Corbyn. Please withdraw your instruction over-ruling the decision of the Beaconsfield Conservative Association to de-select Grieve.

Stephen Fitzgerald e-mail 

posted by Grassroots Conservatives in News