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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 16:04 GMT
MP Cormack fails to get readopted
Sir Patrick Cormack
Sir Patrick Cormack has been an MP since 1970
Long-serving Conservative MP Sir Patrick Cormack has failed to be readopted as a parliamentary candidate for the next general election.

The 67-year-old failed to be readopted by his constituency party in South Staffordshire at a meeting on Monday.

Sir Patrick, an MP since 1970, achieved the biggest swing to the Conservatives - 9.4% - at the last election.

He said he felt "hurt" but the decision had been a "minor setback" and he had "every intention" of standing again.

'Extremely close'

He has the opportunity of seeking the endorsement of the entire constituency membership, of some 500 people.

Sir Patrick, chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee, has a large personal following in South Staffordshire.

Some local Tories are thought to believe he could beat an official Conservative candidate if he ran as an independent.

The only critical comment made was my failure to put the word 'Conservative' sufficiently prominently on my election literature
Sir Patrick Cormack, MP

Sir Patrick said the constituency association vote had been "extremely close", with 14 of the 29 or 30 people at the meeting offering their "unswerving support".

He told the BBC that some of the newer members of the local party had an "agenda" but "I'm not sure exactly what it is".

Sir Patrick added that he did not think the decision was to do with his age, saying: "You can be locked up for ageism now, can't you?"

If party leader David Cameron became prime minister he would "need one or two people who have been around a bit to help him".

'Minor setback'

Sir Patrick said: "I feel rather hurt. But you've got to have a thick skin in politics for your supporters' sake."

He said would not be "rushing into" any decision on his course of action if he was not reselected.

Sir Patrick also said: "As far as I am concerned, I am looking upon this as a very minor setback.

"I have every intention of giving the electors of South Staffordshire the chance to pass their verdict on my services at the next election."

Of the meeting, he said: "The only critical comment made was my failure to put the word 'Conservative' sufficiently prominently on my election literature.

"As I had the largest swing to the Conservatives in the country at the last election, I did not take that particularly seriously."

Sir Patrick, whose parliamentary majority in 2005 was 8,847, is a former party spokesman on constitutional affairs and a former shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons.

He resigned the latter post in 2000 to contest the Commons Speakership election, which he lost to Labour's Michael Martin.

Before entering Parliament, Sir Patrick was a teacher.

He is a Freeman of the City of London, and was knighted in 1995. In the same year he was elected to the General Synod of the Church of England.

Sir Patrick became MP for Cannock in the general election of 1970. Following boundary redistribution he was elected Member for South West Staffordshire - later renamed South Staffordshire - in 1974.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Cllr David Bilson and Sir Patrick Cormack on the candidate row



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