John Maples, the Conservative MP in charge of the system for picking candidates for the next general election has just announced his retirement and, in doing so, stuck two fingers up to the system he was meant to oversee.
The Conservatives traditionally give their local associations a large amount of say in choosing candidates. But, when an election is looming, local parties lose a lot of that power. The cut off date the Party chose was December 31st. If an MP announced retirement before that time then their local party would have a large say in picking their successor. If the retirement announcement came later then the local party would not be involved in shortlisting. In effect, Central Office would tell the local party to pick from a list that it chose. Local candidates would be far less likely to be chosen.
As Deputy Conservative Chairman in charge of candidates, you would expect John Maples to have confidence in the system he oversaw. But his decision to announce his retirement after the New Year cut off date would tend to imply that he doesn't.
Mr Maples decision has provoked fury on Conservative Home.