The Scottish Conservatives have been accused by one of their own politicians of bending the rules to rig their candidate selection process to ensure party leader Ruth Davidson's favoured candidate is selected for next year's Holyrood election.
Councillor David Meikle, Glasgow's only Tory councillor, has pulled out of the race to become a candidate for the Scottish Conservatives due to "serious flaws" in the selection process, which he believes to be a stitch-up.
In an email to party members obtained by BuzzFeed News, Meikle said a candidate was allowed to enter the selection process after the deadline had passed and he therefore "can't continue with [the] process to give it integrity it doesn't deserve".
Although he doesn't name the candidate, Meikle appears to be criticising the inclusion of Professor Adam Tomkins on the list. Tomkins only announced his intention to stand in Glasgow after Davidson revealed she intended to stand in Edinburgh, leaving a space at the top of the Glasgow regional list.
Due to the relatively limited support for the Conservatives in Glasgow, only the candidate chosen at the top of the party list has any real chance of being elected.
In the email, Meikle claimed "the party leader has placed her preference for a candidate" on social media, apparently referring to this tweet.
He told party members the deadline for applying for the candidate list was "dramatically changed" without warning, allowing for another candidate to be added.
To be considered as a potential candidate at a selection meeting you need to be on the list of approved candidates. I am on this list and received notice advising me the Glasgow Association was selecting and the deadline to submit applications was by 9am on Thursday 6 August so the applications could be considered at the Association's sifting meeting on Friday 7 August. I duly submitted my application by the deadline.
To my surprise the process dramatically changed on Thursday 6 August. All candidates on the list of approved candidates received an email from the Scottish Conservative Candidates Board (SCCB) advising the sifting meeting for the Glasgow constituencies had been moved to Saturday 8 August and the deadline for applications for Glasgow had been moved to Saturday 8 August at 9am. This email was sent out at 9.04am, outside the permitted deadline for applications.
Meikle believes this deadline change will "leave the party open to allegations that preferred candidates" were given an unfair advantage in the selection process.
I and other candidates had applied in good faith by the original deadline for a Glasgow constituency and Glasgow was our priority. Now all of a sudden this changed. It also happened on the same day the party announced Ruth Davidson, the sitting Glasgow Region MSP, was relocating to the Lothians region.
I believe this leaves the party open to allegations that preferred candidates were given time and advantage to apply for Glasgow based solely on the news that Ruth Davidson was relocating and their desire to be an MSP by topping the Glasgow List and not through any real commitment to the city or the Glasgow Conservative Association.
He went on to say he could no longer take part in the "flawed selection process".
I do not want to take part in a flawed selection process and then a list rankings where the result had already been predetermined. I can't continue with a process to give it integrity it doesn't deserve. Fundamentally, as a democrat, I believe that the privilege afforded to one should be applied to all. In this instance, I can't agree that this is the case.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said all Glasgow candidates have been selected fairly.
"All candidates in the Glasgow selection are approved and the candidates board has worked hard with the local party to afford members the best possible choice," said the spokesperson.
Meikle did not respond to a request for a comment.
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at email@example.com.
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