A CRUNCH ballot on Friday will decide the future of Ryedale MP Anne McIntosh following a dispute with senior members in the local constituency.
Miss McIntosh, who is chairwoman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, has been involved in a year-long battle, after the executive of Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association voted last January against automatically readopting her as their candidate for the 2015 General Election.
This week, a leaked report claimed efforts to deselect Miss McIntosh had “spiralled out of control” with some senior members breaking the rules by co-opting a large number of new members on to the association’s executive board weeks before the vote.
An internal investigation found the way she was deselected was “fundamentally flawed” and its result should be set aside.
It also criticised association chairman Peter Steveney for a letter he sent to members last February, reminding them to make sure they had the “whole story” before they voted, and urging them to contact him for a personal response.
On Monday, the association’s deputy chairman of membership and fundraising, Margaret Singleton, resigned in an open letter citing, “a divisive and destructive situation has arisen over this selection process”.
However, in a separate letter, association president James Holt, said that reports of “dirty tricks” in Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association grotesquely misrepresented the truth. He said: “Every action Major Steveney and his colleagues have ever taken in relation to the make-up of the association’s executive council was done in good faith and under advice from regional, and later national, officials.
“Miss McIntosh flatly refused to accept a new executive of which every member had been specifically approved as legitimate by the Party’s chief legal officer, hence the imposition of the ballot which closes this week.”
Ryedale District Council leader Linda Cowling said Miss McIntosh had been a very good MP and she hoped this would continue. “Allegations that Anne is impossible to work with are just not true and, from my own experience, I find her very good at communicating,” she said.
Fellow councillor Janet Frank said Miss McIntosh had worked tirelessly for the constituency and she believed her treatment had been underhand.
She said: “She shows a great understanding of the problems of rural communities.”