An ‘open’ primary was held in Esher and Walton, a Tory safe seat, last week. Dominic Raab, a lawyer who currently serves as Chief of Staff to Dominic Grieve, won on the second ballot after fellow candidate, Jo-Anne Nadler, was knocked out in the first round.
The event was attended by over 700 members of the public, making it the most successful open primary to have been held in the UK. However, according to reports Conservative HQ again chose the final six conservative candidates from over 600 applications therefore ensuring central office control.
Dominic Raab, has yet to move to the area, but will now take the place of Ian Taylor, the current Conservative MP, who is to stand down as a result of the expenses scandal. According to, Mr Raab “one of the real advantages of this open primary has been the opportunity to get down here – talking to residents, talking to businesses, talking to councillors”. Local constituents must be delighted that this ‘open’ primary has ensured Mr Raab the opportunity to ‘get down here’ to the area he will now live in and represent.
It must be noted that constituents’ questions had to be submitted before the event, and spontaneous questions after each speech were not permitted. There is no doubt that the Conservatives have led the way on the ‘open primary’ discussion but it would seem there are still immediate changes needed before these can justifiably be labelled truly ’open’.