Big turnout in Totnes primary
The Conservative Party will announce tomorrow lunchtime the winner of their open primary in Totnes, which I covered on Newsnight last week.
The ballot closed at 5pm this evening.
It was the first time that any British party has conducted a postal ballot of all voters in a Parliamentary constituency to select its Parliamentary candidate. So 69,000 Totnes voters had the chance to have a say, whether they were Conservative members or supporters, or not.
Three people were in contention - Nick Bye and Sara Randall Johnson, who are both local governemnt leaders in Devon, and a local GP Sarah Woolaston.
But the more interesting question is not who wins, but how many people voted. The exercise must have cost the Conservative Party at least £40,000, so they will be hoping for a turnout many times in excess of the several hundred members who would attend a traditional selection meeting.
The Conservative Chairman Eric Pickles has said a 15 per cent poll - just over 10,000 voters - would be a good turnout in Totnes, and this evening Conservative officials are fairly confident that they have reached that figure. If so, its by far the largest number of people ever to have participated in a British Parliamentary candidate selection.
After a campaign that has been pretty rushed, I reckon that if the 15% turnout figure is achieved then the Conservatives can indeed claim it to be a successful exercise, even if it has cost them £4 a vote, or more.
Votes will be counted by Electoral Reform Services in London tomorrow morning, in view of representatives of the three candidates (if they choose to send them). It is expected that the result will be announced in Totnes around noon.