Forgive me for scoffing at the Conservative Party holding open primaries, but for me these do nothing for the democratic process as a whole an instead are a means of buying lots of publicity for the Tory party whilst giving a pretence of being at the leading edge of reform of the political system.
The cost of the Totnes open primary is reported to be in excess of £40000. This is a cost that Lib Dem and Labour constituency parties cannot afford. So instantly this idea is a one sided affair, with the Tories using their Ashcroft money (when will he get his affairs in order as he promised when he got his peerage) and and the rest of the cash that is flying in to their reserves in order to appear to be the bastions of electoral reform when anyone with any political knowledge will know that the Tories are the very last party who want to see a fairer electoral system in this country.
The truth of the matter is that this is an expensive PR exercise, and in many ways it has worked. But let's not pretend that this is a model for all constituencies or all parties. If the Tories were lower in the polls do you think they would do this ? Why are they not doing it in safe Labour seats ? Might the answer be that they know that in Tory seats the Tory majority of the electorate are more likely to choose the candidate the Tories want whereas in safe Labour seats the Labour majority could land the Tories with the least palatable candidate ?
So yes, I am a sceptic of this system because it is a system that discriminates against the parties without cash and a system that pretends to be more democratic than it is.
Update : Iain Dale has linked to this article referring to my arguments as apthetic, yet in the article above his Daily Dozen he points the the electoral reasons for the open primary being a good thing. The Tory Party can't have it both ways. Is it about opening up democracy (the Tory line) or PR and winning votes (Iain's line) ?