Boris’ brother parachuted’ in for Tory election shortlist

PUBLISHED: 09:48 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:32 12 August 2010

THE selection of Boris Johnson s younger brother has been met with accusations of cronyism within the Conservative party. Financial Times journalist Jo Johnson, 38, was named on Tuesday as one of the six shortlisted Tories in the race to be the party s p

THE selection of Boris Johnson's younger brother has been met with accusations of cronyism within the Conservative party.

Financial Times journalist Jo Johnson, 38, was named on Tuesday as one of the six shortlisted Tories in the race to be the party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Orpington in the next election.

This appears to be the first time that Johnson, who lives in Camden with his Guardian journalist wife Milly Gentleman and their two children, has followed in the footsteps of his London Mayor brother and former MEP father Stanley.

But Orpington residents have hit out at the list which appears to have no local candidates and includes barristers Victoria Atkins and Anna Firth, entrepreneur Ryan Robson, Kensington councillor Mary Weale and business Sajid Javid - who only recently returned to the country from Singapore.

Rob Miles, 66, of Sutherland Avenue, Petts Wood, said: "This smacks of cronyism and the old pal's act. We've all become very cynical in the last year with all the things that have come to light.

"In the past MPs were there to represent the borough. I would expect the chosen candidate to live in Orpington. If they have roots here and they like the area then they care about it but I don't see how anybody from outside can possibly have much interest in it. It doesn't really fit the bill. You have to be part of the community."

An Orpington resident, who declined to be named, said: "It's outrageous that David Cameron can think that he can parachute some 'A lister' into an area and expect all of the residents to unquestioningly accept his choice and vote accordingly. Well young Mr Cameron is gravely mistaken!

"I'm certainly not going to vote for someone who has no knowledge of the issues in my area or the concerns of local residents.

"There were plenty of willing and able local candidates who would have made fantastic MPs and who have been cast to the side simply so that David Cameron can attempt to ease his 'chosen few' into Parliament.

"I thought that sleaze and nepotism was meant to be a thing of the past and that we were looking forward to a new honest and transparent parliament - how can we be expected to believe this, given the shenanigans in this selection process."

Some 181 people applied to be the Tory candidate, with rumours that several local councillors applied for the post, yet none of the six selected appear have local connections.

Among those who applied were Conservative blogger Iain Dale, from Tunbridge Wells who also applied for Beckenham.

On Twitter he wrote: "Along with 175 others I'm gutted not to be on the Orpington shortlist. Hey ho. Hearty congrats to the six that made it."

But Orpington councillor David McBride, leader of the Bromley Liberal Democrats said that the proposed Conservative candidates for the seat has only strengthened his chances of winning the seat, which became vacant after current MP John Horam announced his retirement earlier this year.

Mr McBride, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said: "I will now be the only local candidate in the constituency. People in Orpington do not take kindly to someone like David Cameron parachuting into the seat someone who has no connection to the constituency and doesn't know the background issues of the area.

"I don't know Jo Johnson and I don't know any connection he has with Orpington.

"People expect MPs to fight for their area in parliament and that is difficult to do if the only thing you know about the constituency is what you find when you do a google search on Orpington."

The selection of a Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate has already attracted scandal after councillor Peter Hobbins was forced to resign from the party after apparently 'racist' emails criticising the selection process were leaked.

But Orpington Conservative Association chairman John Estler insisted that the shortlisted candidates were of a good calibre for the seat.

On Mr Hobbins, he added: "He is staying on as an independent councillor. He has resigned from as a member of the party. I am sure he will be back at some stage but when that is I wouldn't like to guess."

A spokesman for the Conservative Party Central Office said: "The list of candidates were chosen by a panel of local Association members. From a field of almost 200 applicants, they chose the strongest men and women to represent the Orpington constituency. All six candidates have outstanding attributes and the skills to stand up for local residents. It will be local members who will ultimately select the candidate."

The final selection will take place tomorrow (11) at a Special General Meeting only open to Conservative Party members in the constituency.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bromley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bromley Times