Being a passionate Conservative can be deeply frustrating at times. We knew that after the election there would be a) another bout of navel gazing and b) another leadership contest but the fact is that the debate is both disjointed and mostly being conducted about the wrong things, by the wrong people. The entire future of the Conservative party is being discussed and it seems decided by 198 entirely unrepresentative people; our MP's (of whom only 17 are female, for a start).
They live in the bubble of politics in Westminster and yet seem to be intent on deciding not just our future leader (and in this 'presidential' political age, when the leader of the party is who the vast majority of people actually 'vote for' at an election instead of their local candidate this decision is probably the one that will make the difference between winning and losing the next election) but also deciding the 'future direction' of the party and it's policies.
The question is, are they likely to make the right decision?
How many MP's do what most people do every day? How many of them sit and watch Eastenders, The Simpsons or Big Brother? How many of them wash their cars on a Sunday or take their kids to footie on a Saturday?
How many of them really, regularily go to the pub with their mates on a Friday night or go to a Virgin Vie party with their girlfriends?
The answer of course is probably none. And we are no different to any of the other parties in this regard.
How can we possibly ever connect with the wider public if we don't let the wider public 'in' on our decision making?
In America big decisions (like who the Presidential hopefuls are) are made by a series of 'primary' elections where ordinary members of the public who are merely registered as the supporters of one or other party (they don't have to join, just pledge to vote Republican or whatever) hear the party's hopefuls speak and then vote.
Whoever wins the primary's for each party nomination becomes that partys candidate, which gives Americans a real choice of two 'road tested' candidates at every election.
One way of adapting this system would be for the three main parties in Torbay to agree to adopt a similar system for selecting a candidate to fight the mayoral campaign.
I doubt it will happen, but democracy would be better served if it did.