WHAT could be going on behind the scenes of the Conservative parliamentary selection process in Hampstead and Kilburn? With the final decision on a candidate to take on Tulip Siddiq due in the constituency night, Conservative Home report that Claire-Louise Leyland is on the shortlist (no surprise if you’ve been following the intrigue on these pages) along with Henry Newman (as you learned here last night).
But what about Siobhan Baillie, the Frognal councillor who was all set to argue the case it should be her? Her supporters insist she is not the person who the report says declined an invitation to join the shortlist and is actually more eager than ever to serve in the constituency.
It’s one thing to be squeezed out of a three-person shortlist, but even more deflating for her admirers locally to find Central Office just pitching two potential candidates to the deciding panel tonight, when the rules allows for three. In fact, one councillor at the Town Hall told me last night: ‘Why wouldn’t you have three on the shortlist, if you are allowed three?”
Siobhan has just sweated out the London Marathon in five and a half hours, beating the wall at 20 miles in, but when she said she was hardly able to stand afterwards, she certainly didn’t mean this. As with all these internal sagas, there are apparently more developments to come and there are moves, from people both likely to support her and those who wouldn’t but think she has been given a bum deal here, to get her added to the list in time for tonight’s meeting. Either way, it’s a level of confusion which would make you think Labour had sprung this snap general election on the Tories, rather than the other way.
One Siobhan backer explains this morning: “She’s staying calm in a crisis, which is what she’d do if she was the next MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.”