UPDATE: Andrew Sparrow has some choice quotes on the primary in Totnes from local Conservatives, including:
“The Lib Dems have got the candidate they wanted.”
A record 16,000 voters – about 25% of the electorate – have selected Sarah Woolaston as the new Conservative Party parliamentary candidate for Totnes in the country’s first open primary experiment.
As we’ve said on these pages before, this is a bold move.
Anthony Painter says on his blog that he is “absolutely staggered and impressed” by the turnout, while Michael Crick of Newsnight said yesterday that any turnout of 15% or more would enable the Tories to claim this was a “successful exercise, even if it has cost them £4 a vote, or more.”
I was initially sceptical about primaries in this country, and espcially about how they would be funded. But I’ve come round to the view that they are something the Labour party should seriously consider adopting – and the relative enthusiasm for the process in Totnes for a first time experiment should mean the party takes another look.
Although we wait to see the impact this may have on the general election result in Totnes, I suspect – with a majority of nearly 2,000 to defend and a relationship built up with constituents through primary campaigning – Sarah Woollaston will be successful.