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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
Howard Flight sacking: Your views
Sacked Tory MP Howard Flight
Supporters of sacked Tory MP Howard Flight claim they have enough signatures on a petition to trigger a meeting to discuss his fate.

Party members loyal to Mr Flight in his Arundel and South Downs constituency hope to challenge the decision to prevent him from standing at the next election.

But local party officials have insisted Mr Flight will not be its candidate at the general election.

Tory leader Michael Howard withdrew the party whip from Mr Flight over comments he made on its tax and spending plans.

Was Michael Howard right to sack Mr Flight and bar him from standing as a Tory candidate at the next elections? What effect will this have on Conservative party unity?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of views received so far:

I wouldn't be surprised if we had a new Tory leader in a few months
Philippe, London, UK
Had Flight only been banned from the front bench, the fuss about his indiscretion would be over by now. Howard's knee-jerk reaction is meant as a show of force, but betrays in fact his fear of losing his control over the party, and will reinforce his image as a ruthless and power-hungry politician. I wouldn't be surprised if we had a new Tory leader in a few months...
Philippe, London, UK

We have always been told that our local constituency parties are much more democratic than in the other parties because the central party cannot impose its will on us. Is this another example of what Mr Flight highlighted, that they say one thing and mean another? I may not support Labour in the forthcoming election, but Mr Howard changes his position every other day, so has lost my vote.
John Jellicoe, Feltham, Middlesex

Sacked for telling the truth Michael Howard and his party didn't want us to find out about until they were in office and it was too late to stop them. No effect on their unity as they lurch further and further to the right, but it will, along with gaffes by other parliamentary candidates, weaken their election prospects.
Adam, Stoke, England

Didn't you just know something like this was going to happen? I've personally been waiting for a chink in Howard's armour, and now we've got it. He can sack him if he wishes, he's fine to do so providing he's 100% sure there was no truth in his comments about public spending. As for party unity, well, it's not going to help but then nor is the one issue no party is talking about - Europe.
Kyle Christie, Malvern, UK

I think Howard Flight got a taste of his own medicine. Of course, he could have been telling the truth, but how do the Conservatives usually make cuts? By cutting jobs. Howard flight seemed quite unconcerned about conscientious people losing their jobs, just so long as his job was secure - nobody else's job mattered. Perhaps now he may show concern for people who may lose their jobs. I doubt it - he just seems to be keen to keep his own standard of living. I hope the Conservatives lose the seat in Arundel - it will serve them right.
Jonathan Wright, Chadwell Heath, Essex, UK

People may be justified in judging the Tory party by Michael Howard's abrupt sacking of Mr Flight, over and above the remarks that were leaked (I'm sure Boris Johnson would agree). Under the circumstances, Michael Howard's reaction should have been to counter Mr Flight's claim and persuade the electorate that he was wrong, and why he was wrong. Michael Howard has failed to do this convincingly, which makes Mr Flight's claim all the more believable and serves as one more nail in the coffin of the ailing Tory campaign.
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK

Michael Howard's reaction will be seen as an attempt to cover up the true Tory agenda on cuts. The party are now arguing in the pre election period and this will lead to further argument when they suffer at the polls. The party whip system is however one of the worst aspects of British democracy. You vote in a local MP who is then not free to represent local views over party ones. If we wants honesty in politics MPs need to be freed from party restraints.
Alex, London UK

What they are doing now is exactly what has crippled the Tories over the last 10 years
Derek S, UK
Michael Howard was totally correct. The Arundel and South Downs constituency party members should be putting the party and the country before their own petty parochial interests. What they are doing now is exactly what has crippled the Tories over the last 10 years. Grow up and get with the programme.
Derek S, UK

Of course Michael Howard was right to sack Mr Flight - it is impossible to run an election campaign without unity. If Flight did not agree with the party's policy he should have resigned.
CC, Somerset

The world must now believe that Mr. Michael Howard has indeed plans for an escalation of his cutback plans that more of the Tory voters in the UK will receive more in tax cuts. Now we know, this can only have a damaging effect on the floating vote; the anti-Labour people might now vote Lib-Dem. This might let the Tory voters reclaim some of their lost ground, but not an overall majority. This election I feel will be won or lost in the "Public Sector".
Stuart Rankin, Scotland

Whilst I understand why Flight has been removed from his government job I can not comprehend why he has to be deselected. There are any number of Tories who have uttered indiscretions and worse - one thinks of Ann Winterton's humour - who have retained there seats. This is a horrendous gaffe by Mr Howard and one that will haunt him until beyond defeat in the election.
Jon, Manchester

I happened to see Howard Flight speak on Thursday, only to find out he'd been fired that evening. He spoke with great passion and intelligence. And fundamentally his point is right - in Britain we get a very poor deal indeed out of our public expenditure. Now is the time to put Labour's extravagant tax & spend plans in the bin in favour of a more modest State, where we decide how we want our money to be spent.
Andrew, London UK

Howard's faux-pas that will haunt him. What the leader is saying is that you can't have free thought or open discussion in the Tory party. Sounds like Old Labour to me.
Brian, UK

Is Howard Flight really the first senior member of a political party to make a foolish or misguided comment?
Steve Brereton, York, UK
Is Howard Flight really the first senior member of a political party to make a foolish or misguided comment? Michael Howard has over-reacted in exactly the same way as with Boris Johnson. This can either be read as a gift to Labour or a sign of a leader getting jumpy just before an election (that has yet to be called, mind you).
Steve Brereton, York, UK

Well done Michael Howard. This shows that at least one political party will not tolerate distortion of the facts, can't this individual see the damage he has done? It seems that on the run up to any election there is always someone in the Conservative Party who opens his big mouth and torpedoes them. It's happened to John Major, William Hague and IDS now Michael Howard.
George, Boxgrove, UK

Michael Howard wanted to show himself as strong and decisive in barring Howard Flight from standing again. Instead, it's being seen more and more as a panicky over-reaction. John Redwood said much the same thing as Howard Flight a few weeks back, he didn't lose his job let alone his seat!
David Patrick, Reading, UK

This is the last thing the Tories need at the moment with the election looming. It doesn't matter whether the sacking was right or wrong, it just needs to be resolved and quickly.
Paul Beckett, London, UK

Howard is creating the impression that he will not accept any dissent from his views
Simon, Poole, Dorset
In the - thankfully unlikely - event of the Tories winning the election Michael Howard will be put under pressure to withdraw the whip from any MP who steps even slightly out of line or to sack any minister for the slightest indiscretion. If he refuses, he will be described as weak. If he does sack ministers, he will soon run out of MPs. Any MP who claims to agree with every dot and comma of their party's manifesto is lying. After all, no two people have identical views on every single subject. Howard is creating the impression that he will not accept any dissent from his views.
Simon, Poole, Dorset

Are people really of the opinion that we are told what politicians really plan to do if they get into power? Here in Mr Flight is at last a politician that can be slightly respected. Anyone who understands even the basics of UK politics knows that the Tories cut too much public spending and Labour wastes on public spending. It's been this way for years! However, whilst our politicians continue to deceive us, Flight was always going to be sacked.
Steve Clark, Southwell, UK

MPs are not automatons, elected to do and say only what their parties dictates. MPs represent all of their constituents after being elected. The local Tory party, knowing Howard Flight's worth and opinion, had selected him to be their candidate again. Michael Howard's over-reaction is a direct challenge to democracy. This will only harden voter apathy.
Alan Davidson, London, SW16

Tony Blair got Labour elected by being totally ruthless and by people doing as they were told, whether they liked it or not. Michael Howard has to do the same if the Conservatives want to get back into power, whether this is right or wrong. Sadly the Conservative Party has had no shortage of people who are prepared to put their own narrow interests before the greater good. Mr Flight may be in the right, however if he wants to get Labour out (and there are very compelling reasons for doing so) he should step aside and resolve the matter after the election, now is not the time.
Chris Parker, Bucks

I do not think that Michael Howard was right or fair to sack Mr Flight
JohnB, Milton Keynes, UK
I do not think that Michael Howard was right or fair to sack Mr Flight, or to bar him as a candidate. But it is inept, and weak, leadership to take such action so soon before an election for it reveals disunity and draws unwelcome attention to aspects of Party life that will detract from the election campaign itself, as well as provide ammunition for Labour.
JohnB, Milton Keynes, UK

Mr Flight did himself and his former Party no favours. He was a fool to deviate from the official line, whether the Tories have a separate, hidden agenda or not and rightly deserved to be sacked. It seems that, when the Tories look likely to change their fortunes, there is always some clown waiting in the wings to pull the rug from under them. They don't need an Opposition when they seem quite capable of ruining things quite comfortably on their own.
Robbo, Cambridge, UK

Irrespective of which political party he represents, it should be for a constituency to de select him not Party leadership. Whether he was being serious or just flippant in his comment is neither here nor there. I have been at non political events where politicians have made far worse comments. It is the irresponsibility of the person taping him that should be questioned. I urge Mr Howard to reinstate him on the candidates list and let the part faithful decide.
Karen Smith, London, UK

Yes he was right to sack him. In the long run it will have a positive effect. Towing the party line is now more important than ever if the Tories are going to have any chance of winning anything. There is no place in a winning team for those arrogant enough to spout off their own agendas undermining all the hard work by the majority. From everything I've seen of Mr Flight I think the whole party is well shot of him.
Charlie, London, UK

Of course Michael Howard was right to sack Mr Flight
Martin, London, UK
Of course Michael Howard was right to sack Mr Flight, not only did he more or less accuse the conservative leadership of deception, he also failed to tow the party line on a very serious policy issue.
Martin, London, UK

Sack him as Deputy Chairman but leave it there. There are a lot of Tory supporters who believe that government spending should be reduced (but that doesn't mean reducing services just getting rid of waste).
Roger, Stockport, Cheshire

Of course the 35bn should be the start point and any good Conservative would be looking at cutting the bureaucracy right back. This is the chord that should have been fostered rather than cast more than a seed of doubt and drama onto an already sceptical electorate. Own goal.
David Ball, Wokingham, UK

I think it is outrageous that Michael Howard has the power to deselect people like this. He was chosen by the local party and they should be the ones with the final decision.
Abdi, Ealing, UK

Now watch the Tory party self-destruct at a most critical time. Instead of supporting their leader they question his dismissal of Mr Flight. It is clear that the Tory party do not want to be the next government.
Patrick, Ipswich

Profile: Howard Flight
26 Mar 05 |  Politics
Timeline: Flight falls from grace
29 Mar 05 |  Politics
Flight supporters demand meeting
29 Mar 05 |  Politics

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