An attempt to portray the Conservative Party as modern by using open primary elections in the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner selection process backfired when officials refused to say how many people voted for the winning candidate.
Former Birmingham city councillor Matt Bennett beat Solihull borough councillor Joe Tildesley in a two-horse race, but the size of his majority is being kept under wraps.
Voting took place at four primary elections where anyone on the West Midlands electoral register could take part even if they were not Conservative party members. Senior Tories attempted to contrast the open primaries with Labour’s more traditional approach, which relied on party members taking part in a postal ballot.
The regional Conservative Party declined to say how many people voted for Mr Bennett and for Coun Tildesley.
Conservative Party policy across the country is to maintain secrecy over voting figures in candidate selections.
The Birmingham party was criticised for refusing to reveal votes cast in a city council leadership election, which saw the Tory former council leader Mike Whitby beat challenger Randal Brew. Supporters of Coun Whitby claimed afterwards that their their candidate had won easily, while Coun Brew’s backers said the result was on a knife-edge.
Matt Bennett told Chamberlain Files that party rules prevented him from saying how many people voted for him at the PCC primaries.
He added: “I can tell you that I won and that I received significant support from around the West Midlands.”
Mr Bennett said all four primary elections were well attended with a “healthy turnout”.
Mr Bennett will face Labour’s Bob Jones at the PCC election on November 15. The Liberal Democrats and other parties are yet to select candidates.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net - <p>Image: <a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net” target=”_blank”>FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>