Reigate MP calls for members' postal ballot in bid to secure General Election candidacy (From Redhill And Reigate Life)
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Reigate MP calls for members' postal ballot in bid to secure General Election candidacy
5:50pm Tuesday 15th October 2013 in Local News
Reigate MP Crispin Blunt has called for a postal ballot of all members of the Reigate and Banstead Conservative Association after being told to re-apply to stand as the party's local candidate in 2015.
Mr Blunt, who was elected Reigate MP in 1997, and who was returned at the last General Election with a majority of nearly 13,600, has called for the ballot after losing support from the local association's executive council.
Mr Blunt, 53, described his loss of backing in an executive council secret ballot as “very unusual.”
He said in 99% of cases, such secret ballots held after a sitting MP approaches his or her executive council to re-apply to stand for their post at the next General Election, approve the approach.
“But these things happen,” he said, stating that he has initiated the postal ballot, which will take place next month and allow all local party members to put what he described as a “conclusive view” forward on his hopes of standing again.
Referring to the secret ballot result, the former prisons minister, who lives on the edge of Horley, said: “It's disappointing and I wasn't expecting it.
“I know that I have been re-selected three times unanimously in a secret ballot up until 2010.”
It was in August 2010 that Mr Blunt revealed he was gay and there was an announcement of his separation from his wife, Victoria, with whom he has two children.
Stating that he and his wife had had to deal with the fall-out in the public domain, he said: “The vast majority of my colleagues and people have been enormously supportive. “That has inevitably been an extremely important event for me personally, and my family. Much of that is private.”
Referring to the secret ballot, he continued: “This has happened. It doesn't really matter why. It gives me an opportunity to establish with Reigate Conservatives that they have got a decent, hard-working MP, that is regarded so locally and nationally.”
He said: “In the course of October, I am establishing to Reigate Conservatives that they have a decent, hard-working, efficient MP.
“I am now seeking, rather than asserting, to ask people who have worked with me over the last 16 years, nationally and locally, to say so.”
Stressing he hopes to stand again for the Reigate seat in 2015, and referring to key local issues including the protection of the Green Belt, Mr Blunt said: “After 16 years, with my experience and seniority in Parliament, I am able to get the attention of the Prime Minister in these things.
“I am taken seriously. There are advantages of having someone who's been there 16 years.”
A spokesman for Reigate and Banstead Conservative Association was not available for comment as Life went to press.