I've been doing some digging into the Greg Dyke Story. As I reported below, Andrew Neil said on his programme this lunchtime that the Conservatives want Greg Dyke to stand against Ken Livingstone. I've now had it confirmed that this is indeed the case, but it gets even more bizarre. The Tory plan is for Dyke (a former Labour member who is now a paid up LibDem) to stand as a joint Conservative/Liberal Democrat candidate. It's thought this is the only guaranteed way of ousting Ken Livingstone. Dyke is said to be up for it, but the only thing that hasn't happened yet is for anyone to tell the LibDems. Consider them now told.

When someone posted this on my blog an hour ago I thought it must be a windup, but it's not. It's what certain people in the Party leadership are proposing. I've had it confirmed by two separate sources who I trust implicitly.


One source believes that this is a Francis Maude stitch-up. He's being blamed for wanting to ancel the primary process and announce a candidate will all due fanfare. Another tells me this is very far from the truth and the plans emanate from elsewhere and are nothing to do with Maude.


Over the last few months Maude, Gillian Shephard and Jacqui Lait have been interviewing many possible candidates but all have felt that they just couldn't beat Livingstone. So the Dyke option is the last throw of the dice.


I've not been able to get hold of any candidate yet, apart from a spokesman for Nick Boles who told me: "The whole point of the open primary is to offer Londoners a wide range of candidates so Nick welcomes anyone who wants to stand. But London needs a modern Conservative alternative to Ken Livingstone and this is what Nick provides. Greg Dyke has achieved a great deal in his life - but he is not and never will be a Conservative".


I suspect the reaction of the other mayoral camps will be the same. I'm told that Dyke has not met with Francis Maude but this strategy has been developed by a close-knit team who believe it's the only way of beating Livingstone. They know it will cause uproar but are prepared to face down the critics.


As readers will know, I'm not opposed to coming to arrangements with the LibDems in certain electoral circumstances, but I would have to swallow very hard indeed to lift a finger to campaign for a candidate like Greg Dyke, who doesn't have a Conservative bone in his body. I also believe that whoever the Party leadership might want to impose will need to go through the same primary process as those who have already thrown their hat into the ring.

UPDATE: Ben Brogan says that Ming Campbell has rejected the idea in no uncertain terms. He is said to have called the suggestion 'undemocratic'.

UPDATE: Greg Dyke has just phoned Sky News and given the most cringeworthy performance imaginable. He reckons he put the idea to David Cameron and said he would do it if Cameron could get the support of other political parties for it. Ming put the mockers on it. Dyke says he never considered standing as a Tory or a LibDem. He says he have money to the LibDems but is not a member of the LibDems. He then says that Ken has done a good job and he likes him! Quite frankly the man is all over the place. The Tory Party should have nothing to do with him.

UPDATE: Ed Davey has said the LibDems rejected a Tory approach and that there would be no joint candidate HERE.