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Controversy Swirls as Tory Chairman Richard Holden Deflects on ‘Safe Seat’ Parachute Amidst Election Turmoil

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Conservative Party Chairman Richard Holden avoids inquiries regarding his selection for a secure constituency

Richard Holden, who manages the election efforts for the Conservative Party, has been selected to represent a secure district in Essex, a significant distance of 300 miles from his previous constituency in the North East.

Political journalist @fayebrownSky

Sunday, June 9, 2024, 10:

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The chairman of the Conservative Party has declined to respond to inquiries regarding the debate surrounding his candidacy, following his nomination in a "secure constituency" located 300 miles from his previous electoral district.

Last week, Richard Holden was selected as the Conservative Party's parliamentary candidate for Basildon and Billericay in Essex, where he was the sole candidate nominated.

Latest on the Election: Press 'barred from approaching Sunak' following D-Day mishap

The selection ignited outrage among local Conservatives because prior to the election announcement, he served as the MP for North West Durham—a region located hundreds of miles distant, to which he professed significant loyalty.

Basildon and Billericay is considered a "safe seat" as its previous MP, John Baron, who has retired from his position, secured a victory margin exceeding 20,000 votes in the 2019 elections.

On Sunday, Mr. Holden declined to address inquiries regarding the dispute during discussions with the media.

When questioned repeatedly on how he could defend being "handpicked for a secure constituency" from a selection list that included only himself, he diverted the conversation to Labour's plan to impose taxes on private school tuition and remarks made by shadow minister Emily Thornberry.

He stated, "This discussion focuses on Emily Thornberry's remarks today regarding the impact on our nation's children, who will bear the cost of Labour's proposed taxation on private schools should they come to power."

Mr. Holden commented on Ms. Thornberry's statement that the number of students in public school classrooms could grow if Labour implements a plan to apply VAT to tuition at private schools, potentially causing some students to switch to public education.

He stated: "In my view, that's a terrible cost to bear… due to Labour's ideological fixation."

When questioned about allegations of orchestrating a setup regarding his seat allocation, Mr. Holden referred back to Ms. Thornberry's remarks.

When questioned about his previous statement in February, where he declared himself "bloily loyal" to the North East—a region he has represented in Parliament since 2019—he explained that he had already addressed inquiries regarding the controversy over his selection on Channel 4.

He was reminded that C4 is just one network and he was involved in a pool clip—a practice where broadcasters distribute shared footage—yet Mr. Holden remained tight-lipped about the issue.

Holden 'an embarrassment to the Conservative Party'

One Conservative candidate strongly criticized his decision to avoid the questions, describing him as a "disgrace to the Conservative Party" in a conversation with Sam Coates, the deputy political editor at Sky News.

They continued, "He prioritized his own interests above those of other candidates. He has displayed utter contempt for party members. The sole reason he won't be linked with this failed election is because no one perceives him as competent, capable, or trustworthy enough to participate in the daily decision-making processes of this campaign."

"Aspiring politicians often quip that they're rooting for a Labour victory in Basildon and Billericay."

Ex-defense secretary Sir Liam Fox offered a subtler critique during his conversation with Sky News, stating, "I believe that when politicians no longer respond to questions straightforwardly, the public tunes out."

Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds stated, "Ric Holden is leading the Conservative election campaign."

"If Ric finds the chicken coop too hot, he ought to leave the kitchen."

Stay informed on the most recent developments in the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

Prime Minister to travel extensively in coming days

Mr. Holden was also pressed on the issue of Rishi Sunak, who has come under scrutiny for allegedly shunning the press amid ongoing controversy about his premature departure from a global D-Day commemoration.

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When questioned about whether he is avoiding public appearances, Mr. Holden responded, "I am confident that the Prime Minister will be actively traveling throughout the nation in the coming days, campaigning vigorously for every vote."

Mr. Sunak conducted his campaign activities in Yorkshire today, notably absent of the typical accompanying media group, following recent criticisms for avoiding journalists' inquiries on Saturday amid ongoing controversy regarding his D-Day event absence.

On Friday, the prime minister issued an apology for missing a global event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the allied landings, which was attended by various world leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

Further Reading: Political groups 'complicating matters' by dismissing tax increases, claims PM 'profoundly nationalistic', supporter asserts.

Criticism has been mounting from opponents, seasoned politicians, and even members of his own party. Conservative pundit Tim Montgomerie called the premature exit "the largest blunder I've ever seen in politics."

Amid ongoing criticism and a significant 20-point polling disadvantage, there's rising speculation that Mr. Sunak might step down before the election, a notion that Cabinet Minister Mel Stride had to dismiss this past Sunday.

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He confirmed to Sky News that Mr. Sunak will definitely be leading the party during the upcoming election.

"He made it clear that there should be no other considerations."

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