29 SEPTEMBER 1967, Page 31

Mr Heath and the chairman

Sir: I was rather hoping that someone else would take issue with you on your article concerning the Tory leadership. I agree, of course, that any talk of a `power struggle' between the rank and file and the leadership is absurd—but I do not agree that no change resulted from the system adopted in 1965 for electing Tory leaders by Tory MPS alone.

Formerly (with the exception of Sir Alec, whose own selection by Mr Macmillan caused the whole system to be looked at critically for the first time in recent history—not that Sir Alec was criticised, but the manner of his selection was) I believe that the local Tory officials at least had the impression that being consulted on the leadership question meant something. Whilst it is true that probably most Tory ME'S did carry out a sort of Gallup poll among their own party officials—could this really have counted for anything (as you infer), when it was known that the MP alone had the vote to cast? The former (pre-Sir Alec) system at least had the merit of enabling identification, on the part of the party as a whole, with the person elected; today, there is no such feeling of identification.

I personally feel that the party itself, as a party, should elect its leader through the National Union —which, including in its membership MPS. candi- dates, those receiving the Conservative Whip in the House of Lords, agents, and representatives of the whole gamut of voluntary workers, is ideally suited to act as an electoral college for the pur- pose. Furthermore, it would take hardly more time to convene than it would take to arrange for the leadership issue to be decided by MPS.

Leadership of the national party should not be in the hands of one section of it—although inevit- ably and rightly, that section would itself guide the party on the leadership issue. Barry Rose 5 Wychwood Close, Craigweil-on-Sea, Bognor Regis, Sussex