Conservative Party Chairman Francis Maude has extended the deadline for candidates to put themselves forward as the Tory representative for the London Mayoral elections in 2008, prompting accusations that the Party is unhappy with the nominations so far.
The deadline was set for the end of last week but has now been extended to six months, as first reported by Guido Fawkes on his political blog.
He suggested the Tories were unhappy with who had come forward so far, but Mr Maude insisted the new timeframe aims to give more people a chance to come forward.
He said: “Eight weeks ago we set out plans to give every Londoner the chance to become the Conservative Party’s candidate for Mayor of London, and to give all Londoners the chance to play a part in the selection process.
“Since then we have received a number of excellent applications. This has been extremely encouraging. We have also received expressions of interest from a number of very serious potential candidates for whom the timescale we originally set is too restrictive.
“Given that the mayoral elections are still nearly two years away, we are therefore extending the deadline to give these and others the chance to come forward.
“We want as wide a range of people as possible to take part in this exciting and innovative process with a view to selecting a candidate next spring.”
Meanwhile the likelihood of a gay London Mayor has increased after former Hackney councillor, Andrew Boff, put his name forward for the open primary, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s an opportunity for London to have a real say for itself.
“I want to give more voice to Londoners to enable them to directly control their own government.”
Last week Nick Boles confirmed the rumours which were published recently on PinkNews.co.uk, and other political blogs, that he would put forward an application to stand for London Mayor in 2008.
He said in a statement to ConservativeHome, “Lots of people have encouraged me to stand for the nomination as the Conservative Party’s candidate for Mayor. People from right across the London party. And people who have never voted Conservative in their lives.
“I’m very attracted by the idea of running for Mayor. It would be an opportunity to present a new face of Conservatism to the capital. I love London and believe it needs to be led by someone who unifies people and makes things work – neither of which can be said of Mr Livingstone.
“What matters is what Londoners want from their mayor, and what Conservative supporters in London want from a Tory mayoral candidate. That’s why I have spent the last few weeks – and will spend much of August and September – talking to people right across London and asking them what they think, what are the issues they want to see their mayor tackle, and what approach they want him or her to take.”
The winner will face the incumbent Labour mayor Ken Livingstone, often praised for his pro-gay credentials. The party hopes that an open selection will encourage minority candidates to emerge including candidates from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.