A senior Midland MP has vowed to fight for his seat after Tory party activists apparently decided he was too old to contest the next General Election.
Sir Patrick Cormack, aged 67, who has served for 37 years in the Commons, was shocked when his South Staffordshire constituency voted against endorsing him as the Tory candidate at the next General Election.
He says two members of the committee admitted they voted against him because of his age.
In 2004, when Michael Howard was party leader, Sir Patrick was rumoured to be on a list of "bed-blockers" whom the leadership believed should move aside to make way for young blood.
David Cameron, the current leader, has called for constituency associations to select more women, people from ethnic minorities and younger candidates for safe seats.
But Sir Patrick said he intended to stand in the next General Election come what may. The comments appeared to leave the way open for the MP to stand as an independent in South Staffordshire if he is not re-selected.
Sir Patrick said the decision came as a surprise, particularly as his constituency saw a swing to the Conservatives of 9.4 per cent at the last General Election, the biggest in the country.
He said: "Not a single word of criticism had been voiced to me about my performance in my constituency or Parliament. After the meeting, two people admitted they had voted against me on age grounds."
Executive members had also complained that he failed to display the word "Conservative" prominently on his election leaflets, he said.
"As I had the largest swing to the Conservatives in the country at the last election, I did not take that particularly seriously."
He added: "As far as I am concerned, I am looking upon this as a very minor setback. I have every intention of giving the electors of South Staffordshire the chance to pass their verdict on my services at the next election.
"I would very much like to stand as the Conservative candidate."
The executive vote was held in secret but the result appears to have been close, with 14 of the 30 members telling Sir Patrick afterwards that they supported him.
The MP could now appeal to the entire constituency party of 500 members, who have the authority to overturn the executive's decision under the party's rules.
He said: "The ball is in my court. I am chatting to everyone who wants to talk to me. I am reflecting on what I want to do, and talking to my wife." Coun David Billson, Chairman of South Staffordshire Conservative Party, is to meet Sir Patrick today to discuss what happens next.
Coun Billson, a member of South Staffordshire Council, said: "There was a secret ballot in which each member of the executive committee voted, in accordance with party rules.
"Sir Patrick now has two options. He can appeal to the membership as a whole, in which case there would be a secret postal vote to endorse his reselection.
"Alternatively, there can be a selection process in which he could be one of three people on the shortlist."
A spokesman for Conservative Central Office said: "It is a local issue."
Sir Patrick was first elected to Parliament in 1970 as MP for Cannock and became Member for South Staffordshire (formerly called South West Staffordshire) in 1974.
He is became chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee and currently heads an all-party group on reform of the House of Lords, which opposes plans for an elected Lords but backs changes to the way peers are appointed.
* Has Sir Patrick been stabbed in the back as the Conservatives seek to change their image? Or has his constituency made the right decision? Tell us your thoughts at the messageboard.