Oh dear! the deselection of Liz Truss by Norfolk Conservatives is something of a challenge for the so-called modernisers around David Cameron. To most people these days, the deselection of someone because they had an extra-marital affair several years ago looks pretty absurd. These days the majority of the population are understanding about the pressures that can cause marriages to fail, and know that the idea of blaming someone is often wide of the mark.
Nevertheless it is only to be expected that Conservatives would be more concerned about the issue of marriage and morality. Social Conservatives pay a great deal of attention to institutions, and are naturally conservative about maintaining them. There is indeed a real cost to society from the failure of such institutions, but while Conservatives try to defend the institutions themselves, a Liberal will focus of the role of individual rights and responsibilities, rather than an imposed sense of -often hypocritical- social morality.
Given that Ms. Truss's affair was extremely public, and details could be found in a single google search, one can only assume that there may be another agenda amongst the local Conservatives. Mr. Cameron, by forcing candidates on local parties is breaking an old tradition amongst both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats- the local party is the final arbiter in the selection of a candidate. Personally I think that David Cameron, by forcing all women short lists on an unwilling party, is sending a message that a candidate's gender is more important that their character- which is why the Liberal Democrats don't make their candidate selections based on gender preference, but gender balance in the selection process. In any event, in virtually any other job, an employer that expresses such a gender preference, irrespective of merit, is breaking the law.
It seems to me that the deselection of Ms. Truss underlines the huge gap that has opened up between the "Notting Hill Set" and the rest of the Conservative Party. The leadership is already making the bedrock of the Conservatives nervous with his talk of social liberalism: the majority of the Conservative Party remains socially, well, conservative. Frankly Cameron's views on imposing all women short lists, apart from being a challenge to the independence of local parties, also puts him well to the left, not only his own party, but a significant swathe of Liberal Democrats and even some Socialists.
With growing suspicions about his views on the EU, Mr. Cameron may face a series of rebellions from his local parties. Given the scale of the job that is need for the Conservatives to get a working majority, there is real danger that such rebellions could undermine party unity and leave the Tories short of their majority.
David Cameron will only have himself to blame his he continues to tread on the toes of his own party. Liz Truss may be simply the first casualty of the growing discontent at the Conservtative grass roots against the self-styled "heir to Blair".