Thursday, July 25, 2024

Basildon Tories leader set to hold Richard Holden MP to account over selection process promises

THE leader of the Basildon Tories insists he will hold a new south Essex MP to account over promises he made to “deal with” the selection process, which caused uproar with the local party. It comes after the new MP stepped down as national party chairman reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

Richard Holden, newly elected Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay announced he was stepping down from the chairman role on Monday, after he scraped through to hold Basildon and Billericay by just 20 votes, following a dramatic evening at the count including two recounts last Thursday. 

One of the biggest issues in the election campaign in the area was the controversy over Richard Holden being selected by the national Tory party as their candidate for the seat.

Andrew Baggott, leader of the Basildon Conservatives, said: “I am concerned that he’s going to be in less of a position to deal with that issue than if he would have stayed on as chairman of the party.

“It came as a bit of a surprise to be honest and is the latest surprise we have had from him. I will hold him to his promise, I will be asking him what he has done to ensure he can deliver on the promise, this being that he will look into it and sort it out.

“If he comes out with an excuse it will not sit well. But we do have to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think about 50 per cent of our party feel the same way I do and that’s more than enough.”

Mr Holden being selected at the last minute sparked anger from the local Tory party. Last month, speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Baggott, described the decision to make Mr Holden the only option in the Tory candidate poll for the seat as a “kick in the teeth” for local party campaigners.

Mr Holden said in his resignation letter: “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve the Conservative Party, of which I have been a member for 25 years, as its Chairman.

“I have loyally supported all our leaders and Prime Ministers since I joined all those years ago – be it as a volunteer, a member of the CCHQ team, as a Parliamentary candidate, as the first Conservative Member of Parliament for North West Durham – until its abolition by the Boundary Commission – and now as Member of Parliament for Basildon and Billericay

Mr Holden was contacted for comment on his resignation and the comments made by Mr Baggott. 

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