James Cleverly today became the fifth candidate to publicly enter the race to be selected as the Conservative Mayoral candidate for 2008.
Previously declared hopefuls are Warwick Lightfoot, Victoria Borwick, London Assembly Member Richard Barnes and Nick Boles.
Mr Cleverly was previously Conservative candidate for the directly elected Mayor of Lewisham in May 2006 and at the 2005 General Election stood as the Conservative candidate for Lewisham East.
Under a scheme announced in June every voter in London will get the chance to select the Tory Party candidate irrespective of whether they are a party member of not. In a bid to make the selection more open any Conservative member who is eligible to stand for Mayor can apply to become the candidate.
When he announced the selection process Conservative party leader David Cameron said “it’s the first time in British politics that such an important post has been chosen like this. Too many people are fed up and disillusioned with politics. I hope that doing things differently will fire the public’s imagination, and get them talking and thinking about politics again.”
However the failure of any high-profile candidates to announce their interest has prompted a backlash in some quarters with the Telegraph newspaper calling on party bosses to “extend the deadline for another six months or even a year”.
Leading blog Conservative Home raised concerns about the selection process in April this year. Writing to party Chairman Francis Maude the editors of the site warned:
“Most people with normal jobs can’t drop their business or family plans to run for the Tory nomination throughout this summer. They need time to disentangle themselves from commitments. The people most likely to be ready for a rushed nomination are the very rich or the very political – not necessarily the ideal representatives of David Cameron’s changing Conservative Party.”
Last month MayorWatch commented on the difficulties facing the Conservative party in selecting a candidate of sufficient calibre to offer Londoners a genuine choice.