Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bracknell Open Primary Review

I have just come back from the Primary and reported a Bracknell Blog news flash with the news that Dr Phillip Lee won. It appears that local doctors have the edge at local primaries.

I got the feeling from walking the floor that he was winning from the beginning.

Each candidate had a leaflet on the chairs to read (all glossy and professional more about these later). We also had a CV from each and a scoring sheet for our use.

Lott’s were drawn to decide on the order of the candidates.

The format was based on each candidate giving a short 5-minute speech, Questions from the floor and the moderator (All question had to be sent in from the letter, I didn’t get my letter in time so I could not ask any questions) for 20 minutes and lastly a 3-minute sum up at the end.

After questions the primary attendees had to write which of the 7 candidates they wanted to win on a coloured piece of paper and then put these into a ballet box. This was a form of attendee driven STV (Single Transferable Vote) where we did the work. To win a candidate had to get over 50% or 50% +1vote. Once a candidate was eliminated we simply wrote the name on the next piece of differently coloured paper and kept on going until the 50% was reached.

As far was the format went, bearing in mind that the Bracknell Tory Party has never ran a Primary before, for the most part worked. There were two problems; firstly the first 3 candidates were not able to answer all the questions (Not sure if this is an advantage or disadvantage). This was because when the questions were taken from the floor, the person asking the question asked it and then the moderator had to repeat it (this was not done for the first candidate but from the 2nd and 3rd). After this the moderator simply read the questions himself with audience approval, this meant that the 4th to 7th candidates could then answer all the questions.

Second problem was the delay in an announcement about what we had to do with our first paper. I gave mine to a Steward but then we were told to put them in the ballet boxes. But after this the whole process although long worked well.

Before the candidates took the platform we had a chance to read the leaflets. I actually think this was very important as you only have so much time to read them, so you scan them. I think Phillip Lee won on his leaflet alone. If you read his interview here you will see that he didn’t touch on some of the points in his leaflet. His leaflet was very concise and targeted to the conservative Bracknell voter.

The front was very clear with 3 points all starting with local (local doctor, local man, local man loyal to his constituents). In his speech too I hear Local, Local, Local.

The back of the leaflet was a master stoke, picture outside Heatherwood Hospital (currently under threat) and Royal British Legion. With comments on immigration (always a major topic on the door step and I think he pick up on this).Britain first before the EU and Supporting the Military covenant proposed by the Royal British Legion.

Also mentioned defence of Heatherwood hospital (big topic in Bracknell) Local Police, local jobs and the regeneration of Bracknell Town.

Naturally its really the council who are actually in charge of most of these topics but that does not really matter here as Phillip is simply try to win over the voters at the primary to become the PPC.

The other leaflets were generally too long, however the worst one was actually too short see below

Margaret Doyle leaflet was just too basic with a picture on the front and 5 points on the back with one endorsement.

The Questions and Answers and Speeches in order of appearance. I’m going to judge this on how I felt about what each candidate conveyed as apposed to how the candidates actually are as you win on what of yourself you managed to get across to your audience. For example the candidate could come across as being a party line person when they may not be.

1 Phillip Lee.

The main point of his speech was local, local man, local doctor, total advantage here as he could easily claim this against the other candidates. He answered all the questions head on. What I really noticed was that he came across as caring and feeling.

I did notice that Phillip in his CV stated that he would continue to sever as a doctor in the community but in his question and answers he changed this to become a full time MP. I wonder if he changed his mind there and then because he did pause before answering the question.

He didn’t seem to stay too far from Tory policy in the questions. He also referred many principled points to his experience as a doctor in Bracknell, which came across very well.

He answered very well in and his CV which was good and well structured. I marked him 24 out of 30 on my sheet.

Next up Ryan Robson

He had put a lot of work into his leaflet but he also had a team behind him handing out leaflets on the door.

Ryan who I believe really is sincere did not come across this way, this I think was due to his reference to his love of Bracknell. He came across as a party man and very much a politician (not saying that’s bad). From what I could tell he came across a little boring, which I think is a massive shame as he clearly does great work at the Centre for Social Justice.

He made it very clear that he was from a single parent family and that he was still able to achieve despite this.

He did make it very clear that he would not claim for any personal allowances. He also mentioned demand led regeneration which didn’t go down well with non party members.

He had a massive leaflet but there was just too much to read at the time, I heave read it now and what it does say is very good. His 5 key promises were good.

His CV was very extensive. I marked him as 12 out of 30

Next Rory Stewart OBE

He sounded at first like he was going to go down badly when he first spoke but the audience became entranced by him. It was a very interesting story about becoming a local on the ground in Kabul, Afghanistan and how he would become a local in Bracknell to understand the issues.

He talked about how he could a track major foreign business to Bracknell and how he could bring about the regeneration of Bracknell as he had done this before on a major regeneration project.

During the questions he upset some of the older Conservative members by saying that he would cancel trident altogether and spend more money on the troops. He said it was not required now but was only needed in the cold war. He said we still have other methods of delivering nuclear weapons. This was interesting coming from a man who served in Black Watch and who has many contacts.

At the end of his speech he referred to his contacts and said he could easily speak to some very important people (I forget who now) but he did seem almost over qualified. I think actually he could have been a great (maybe still can) Defence Secretary.

His Leaflet was one of the better ones although there were no pictures of Bracknell in it.

His CV was not well spaced out and hard to read. I scored him 25 out of 30

We then had a break and up next were the ladies.

Julia Manning

Julia Manning seemed very much on the party line too until a question on the NHS where she said that she does not have a problem with using private companies in the NHS as she started up a business serving in healthcare. Julia has a lot of experience in healthcare and this came across well.

She was also quite funny which is always good for a speech especially after you have already sat through 3 sessions.

Julia Manning had uncovered a scandal in the NHS and had to take flack from some for this. She said she would move to Bracknell with her kids and referred to local issues.

The main problem for Julia was by now we hand heard the same answers from most candidates to most of the questions and she seems very on message which put some off her I believe.

Julia Manning’s CV was good, clear and well laid out

I scored her 18 out of 30.

Katy Lindsay

She motioned that her father was one of the original town planners.

Again very funny, but she really seemed to fall down on the questions. She appears to know it too and I thought she looked like she wanted to leave.

One really good point and funny moment was when she spoke about a private members bill she would introduce stating that Britain should have a policy where we only adopt a European policy as the 2nd to last, and if we wanted it earlier it had to go through the house of commons and would therefore be thrown out so we would never need to adopt any European policy.

She also stated that she would say yes to a 3rd runway

Her leaflet had a lot of standard achieve pictures but no Bracknell pictures and nothing on the back.

Her CV was quite well laid out and had good detail

I scored Katy Lindsay 14 out of 30

Margaret Doyle

Seemed very professional. She works with George Osborne as an advisor. She mentioned the new rules for vetting checks and said Labour should have the slogan “No good deed goes unpunished” a very good line. She hand some different ideas like mentioning not having a 3rd runway at Heathrow but having an expansion of Gatwick instead.

One bad point for us non Bracknell Conservative members was saying Dale Birch’s name 7 times (Deputy Leader of the Borough Council), it was like hearing a broken record. Other than that she had a good speech.

Margaret Doyle leaflet as mentioned before was just too short and was by far the worst.

Margaret’s CV was also the worst. It didn’t say much and had a list of endorsements.

I scored Margaret Doyle 18 out of 30.

I have to add I found it really hard to get hold of Margaret Doyle for a Westminster Councillor I used the Westminster council site to email her. I had to chase this up a few times and then I got given a different email from the council. I tried that email then got given another email. I emailed this then nothing so I then gave up. During her speech I’m sure she said she would not deal with issues herself. I think while true that MP’s have a staff she could of said this in a better way unless she actually meant it?

Iain Dale

As expected he came across really well. Funny thing is having spoken to Iain Dale I noticed that he was quite nervous when he started. I’m sure the other where too but I now know his voice quite well from TV, radio and in person.

Iain Dale's speech took a different tack to the others and he spoke about trust, a good move, it woke us all up and was a great point to make.

He also was very honest and received a few claps from the audience for the 11.5 million people who could need vetting to look after children and speculated that he would have to be in the future if he visited a school. Claps to for an English Parliament. He sated he would be independent but not a maverick. I’m sure Iain will blog on this speech later so I won’t go mad here.

Iain Dale's leaflet was his canvassing leaflet he had used in town. All the pictures are local from Bracknell, Sandhurst, Finchampstead and Crowthorne. It even includes an endorsement from Lib Dem blogger Nich Starling. You can really see that he has put the work into winning this.

Iain Dales CV was very good and well laid out.

I scored him 27 out of 30

By the end I noticed that the candidates were all mentioning their family history and their Grand Fathers or Granddads. As far as I can remember, this happened in all cases apart from Iain Dale’s. Just seemed funny to me as this was annoying the man sitting beside me who wanted to hear about them, although I do understand how import background is. All candidates managed to reference their own personal families or personnel experiences to their speeches. Which I know is a good idea for speech writing as it makes you appear more understanding of a subject and helps people to remember and listen.

Overall my experience of the open primary was good, after the speeches and questions I got to talk to a number of conservatives and none. I also spoke to a BBC reporter/cameraman. But I was surprised not to bump into any Labour members. Ray Earwicker the Lib Dem PPC was there but left before the voting, which I think, was the right thing to do. This was quite social but I do love talking politics.

Well done again to Dr Phillip Lee on being selected in a tough competition. I look forward to the general election campaign where I will be helping the Lib Dems beat him, but I don’t mind admitting, it’s not going to be easy.
Mark Reckons makes a good point on local candidates at open primarys
Iain Dale gives his Congratulations to Philip Lee
UPDATE: Iain Dale tells it from the other side (the Candidate)

Bookmark and Share


  1. Thank you. That was very informative.

  2. Who knew that Rory Stewart is anti-Trident? Or that he genuinely did try to draw parallels between Bracknell and Kabul? (I'll admit that I've never been to Kabul, but I've been to Bracknell - I have family in the constituency - and the parallel would not have been obvious to me.) As far as that goes, who knew how any of this stuff worked in practice?

    Many thanks for taking the time to post such a detailed and constructive account.

  3. Ditto on the informative & interesting comments - thanks

  4. Thank you for the comments its nice not to have to do combat once in a while

  5. I'm surprised Ms Doyle would highlight an endorsement from Mark Field MP, he's always struck me as a bit of a creep.

  6. I was wondering about the doctor bit and being an MP, they are both full-time jobs. Then there is his spare time being spent in his local...

  7. Osama the Nazarene18 October 2009 at 20:07

    Interesting and informative commentary. Thanks.

  8. Thanks for that report. I have no doubt that your report will be far more interesting and full of "colour" than the Bracknell News one. Excellent stuff. Keep it up.

  9. Cheers People, I imagine Bracknell news will be very facts based with no sence of what it felt like to be involved.

  10. Very interesting, but you have let yourself down by being a Lib/Dem. why are they not doing this sort of thing. The Tories are leaving the other parties behind in the past.

    Thanks for posting the info.

  11. Johnny Norfolk, I would love to do this with say Ray Earwicker and MArk Reckons and others but we just dont have the money in our party to do it. I dant speak for others in the Lib Dems but I guess it would be the same, lack of money tis event costs

  12. Thanks for this - really useful.

  13. Interesting. Dale was unlucky I think.

  14. Well done - very comprehensive resume of the primary. I also attended but was unable to score any of them as generously as you did. Main reason - they had all clearly been well coached by the Tory training school and therefore nearly all gave practically the same answers. I went to the meeting feeling Ian Dale's arrogance shown in his radio interviews over the past few weeks meant he thought he had the nomination sown up. I actually found his section brought a breath of fresh air to the proceedings and consequently he ended up with my second highest score of 20 out of thirty.Rory Stewart also took a slightly off-message stance by saying that the scrapping of the fourth Trident submarine would enable the UK to equip soldiers on the ground better. As shown by all conflicts from the Falklands onwards, it is our ground troops that need back-up much more than sea borne nuclear capability ( and we would still have three!) He was also clearly the best educated but his work in Pakistan is probably more important to mankind than anything he could do in Bracknell. He also, rather curiosly, seemed to think it was time to get a wife and children and settle down. My immediate thought was 'what shop is he going to purchase this family unit from!'. The candidates were so clearly divided into two quality categories that only Philip Lee, Rory Stewart and Ian Dale were ever in the running. As a woman it upset me that two of the women were clearly only there to fulfill the 50/50 gender requirement and the third one, Margaret Doyle, whilst a better speaker, told us nothing about herself in her leaflet and not much more about her aspirations for Bracknell in her verbals. I don't know which laboratory the Tories clone there 21st century candidates in but congratulations to the clone that did win. He will be hard to campaign against.

  15. Daz n all thks 4 a good summary. Good luck Bracknell with Dr Lee.
    However we note that part of Bracknell constituency moves to the Windsor constituency for the GE next year.
    We in Binfield (ex Bracknell constituency and ex Mackay come May/June 2010) look over the horizon and dread a grey clouded, big government, high tax, oppressive legislative future in the Windsor conservative paradise constituency. Binfield doesn't even get onto Adam Afriyie MP's website graphic so what does he know care about us (and in fact what do we know about him?) and the GE is only 7 mths away. Keep up man!
    AF is complacent if he thinks we in Binfield are part of the established Bracknell Forest Tory republic sub region and can be counted on voting for modernist Tory unrepresentative rubbish. Perhaps he should consider that his big majority may be at threat from us in Binfield unless we are inclusive in Afriyie's empire. Afriyie - are you listening to Binfield? At this time I don't think so.

  16. MPWatcher Binfield! Where the hell is that....only joking.
    Well I'm sure your still check out bracknell blog after all your still much closer to bracknell then windsor that's miles away. We will miss u when it happens

  17. Excellent - 5 stars. Many thanks for taking the trouble to post.

  18. How is Dr lee going to jugggle being a medical doctor and and MP?