Wednesday, May 31, 2006

LibDems Select Bromley By-Election Candidate

As they ditch their Campaigns & Communications Director Lord Razzall (see Guido) the LibDems have selected their candidate for the Bromley & Chislehurst by-election. He's thirty year old political lobbyist Ben Abbotts, who fought Michael Fallon in Sevenoaks at the 2005 election. Fallon boosted his majority and there was a 1.1% swing from the LibDems to the Conservatives. His campaign website is still live, where we learn on the front page that he must be the only LibDem in existence who spells 'environmentally' with one L. I'm sure the press will want to find out more about his directorship of the lobbying consultancy LLM. LLM feature in the Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze. I think I will leave Guido to furnish you with more about them. Ben's wife Zara is Head of Religious Education at a local Grammar School (don't the LibDems want to abolish grammar schools?) and the couple have a three year-old daughter, Tallulah, and a one year old baby called Sienna. I leave you with one question. Would you entrust your vote to someone who calls their daughter Tallulah?

UPDATE Thur 10pm: Ben Abbotts (who is a reader of this blog) says the info on the Sevenoaks LibDem website about his wife teaching at a grammar school is wrong. I thought about editing it out of the original text, but then the comments would appear rather non sensical. Hope that clears it up, anyway!

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain how the Libs select their candidates?

It always seems to be done so fast I often have to wonder if they do have a system.

Is it one member, one vote? If so how many members voted in his selection?

Is it by local branch members at a specially organised meeting? Again how did the votes pan out?

and who else stood against him for the candidacy?

Or do they get appointed by some central body?

Always seems to be very quick unlike others who go through a constitutional process.

It's just that other parties seem to be put under greater scrutiny when selecting candidates but the Liberal Democrats (ho hum) seem to go under the radar without any murmur of dissent.

Anonymous said...

..... and Iain Dale must be the only former lobbyist who spells Directorship as "Directorhsip"!

I have to agree with you though as regards the name Tallulah - fortunately for her, it will probably become shortened to Tally or even Lofty - let's hope she's not vertically challenged, poor soul.

Neil Reddin said...

Nice bit of research there Iain.

Looks like they've also ditched their PPC from last year, Peter Brooks, who wasn't in the final two.

Anonymous said...

Whatever his credentials, he certainly looks the part - the good ladies of B & H are sure to like him! Let's hope the Tories don't adopt a Ming in reverse approach and select a conspicuously older candidate.

Peter Black said...

Gosh, look at that. It is not Liberal Democrat policy to abolish Grammar Schools! Stop making up policy for us Iain. It really does not do your credibility any good.

Antony said...

Hang on, it's just their policy to abolish faith schools then.

Anonymous said...

"Stop making up policy for us Iain. It really does not do your credibility any good."

Quite right Peter.

A quick look at FibDems proved to me that your party is quite capable of making up policies as it goes along with no credibility based in principle whatsoever.

Chris Palmer said...

That's rather strange Peter Black, because on the 9 March 2002, Phil Willis, then Education spokesman, in a speech to Lib Dem Party conference said:

"Let me make clear my opposition to selection in what ever form it takes. By ability. By aptitude. By specialism. Or by faith."

Since there have not been further announcements by your party, we must assume that the policy still stands.

Rog. said...

Slightly OT, but it's Prezza's birthday today!

Born 31/5/1938, making him 68 (latest retirement age?)

Hope they managed to give him "the bumps".

Anonymous said...

I remember Phil Willis calling grammar schools "archaic and divisive." In October 1999 he called on the Labour Party in the House of Commons to "have the courage of their pre-election convictions and legislate to remove grammar schools."

This doesn't really seem to tally with what you say Peter. Any chance you could clarify?

Personally I think that you should let Iain make up your policies. At least they would be consistent, if not perhaps popular with your grassroots!

Matt said...

I remember Phil Willis calling grammar schools "archaic and divisive." In October 1999 he called on the Labour Party in the House of Commons to "have the courage of their pre-election convictions and legislate to remove grammar schools."

This doesn't really seem to tally with what you say Peter. Any chance you could clarify?

Personally I think that you should let Iain make up your policies. At least they would be consistent, if not perhaps popular with your grassroots!

AJD said...

Mr Peter Black AM - looks like you were proven wrong by Chris Palmer.

By the way, why are the Welsh Assembly Members known as 'AM'? I would have thought 'WAM' would be more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call a child after such a legendary louche gal - tremendous fun although she must have been. Maybe the don't know the Tallulah Bankhead story.

Tallulah was in a cubicle in the ladies' loo in NYC. After she was finished, she found to her revulsion, the spindle was empty of toilet paper.

"Excuse me," she said knocking on the wall of the next cubicle. "Do you have any toilet paper in there?" Answer came there back - "No. Sorry."

Tallulah was silent for a minute then said, "How about two tens for a twenty?"

- Anonymousette

ian said...

There was an article on PM today about how some tory seats haven't had many applications from the A-List. Telford, for example, has only had one application.

Will you be applying to be tory candidate for Telford?

Iain Dale said...

Peter Black, I think you have been well and truly answered!

Ian, don't be a plonker. As I'm not on the A List I am not in a position to apply for any seat. As well you know. And I haven't got the faintest idea where Telford is anyway. Is it near Shrewsbury?!

Andrea said...

"Gosh, look at that. It is not Liberal Democrat policy to abolish Grammar Schools! Stop making up policy for us Iain. It really does not do your credibility any good"

yes, if a local ballott of parents approve them, they could survive.
Otherwise they should be abolished
At least it's what you (along with Labour Left) voted last week.

ian said...

Francis Maude (or someone) did say that the constituency wouldn't be limited to people on the A-list.

Apparently there are loads of constituencies that the A-list don't like the look of who are now desparate for candidates.

Tom said...

Apart from not knowing his own party’s policy on education, what has Peter Black got against grammar schools? Having attended Wirral Grammar School for Boys himself is this yet another example of having benefited from all the advantages, he then pulls up the draw bridge againts others……enquiring minds wish to know.

Inamicus said...

For bye elections the LDs operate an accelerated selection process - all on the LD parliamentary candidates association list are invited to apply. The selection is generally in the hands of the local party but I imagine there is a campaigns dept observer on the panel - the exception to this would be if the local party membership is below a certain threshold.

Dave Hill said...

I think he looks like Michael Atherton, though I'm afraid I've no idea what that might mean.

Peter Black said...

Actually Liberal Democrat policy is made by Conference not by MPs. Phil Willis may consider selection to be archaic but that view was not enshrined in any motion nor was it in our 2005 manifesto. Essentially therefore I am correct, it is not English or Welsh party policy to abolish Grammar Schools. I do not believe that it is our policy to abolish faith schools either but as we are essentially talking about English policy here I am happy to be corrected with chapter and verse.

Oldsarum seems to be adopting the same trick, making up my supposed opposition to Grammar Schools and then criticising me for it. That is not my position. Andrea should be aware that the vote on the Education Bill (which only applied to England by the way) had nothing to do with existing Grammar Schools but it was about introducing selection into existing non-selective schools. That is not a sensible way forward.

We are called AMs for Assembly Members. The Welsh is AC for Aelod Cynulliad. We are not called Welsh Assembly Members because Welsh Assembly is not the official designation of the body I serve in. In the Government of Wales Act it is called the National Assembly for Wales and NAfWAM is a mouthful by anybody's standards.

Anonymous said...

Last poster - just too, too boring!

ian said...

"Let me make clear my opposition to selection in what ever form it takes. By ability. By aptitude. By specialism. Or by faith."

Does this also include by wealth, and the consequent abolition of private education, or is being rich a better reason to get a better education than being bright?

Anonymous said...

"Andrea should be aware that the vote on the Education Bill (which only applied to England by the way) had nothing to do with existing Grammar Schools but it was about introducing selection into existing non-selective schools. That is not a sensible way forward."

I was referring to David Chaytor's amendment and well, Mr Chaytor said if passed, it would have given parents the vote on whether existing grammar schools should remain.
I suppose Mr Chaytor knows what he wrote.
Here's a brief paper to explain various amendments, including Chaytor's one:
http://www.comprehensivefuture.org.uk/PDF/EducationBillAmendments.pdf

Paul Linford said...

Ian, don't be a plonker. As I'm not on the A List I am not in a position to apply for any seat

Not quite so, Iain. The A-list system will not apply to Bromley and Chislehurst so that's one seat you could (should?) apply for ;-)

David Taylor said...

Don't Lib Dems want to abolish Religious Education too?

Michael Oakshott said...

If the LibDim`s have their representatives stating their personal opinions, then why are we subjected to non-entities like Willis on education. If the party is too foolish to articulate policy then they should have no complaint when they are misrepresented or misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with mis spelling a word? If it's shorter it saves ink so must be better for the planet!

Anonymous said...

Hang on, even if Lib Dem policy was to abolish grammar schools it is astonishingly low to criticise a candidate for being married to somebody who works in one. Firstly, we all need to earn a crust. Secondly, people who are against grammar schools merely believe that there are more effective systems for organising an educational system - they obviously don't think that grammar school teachers are in some way bad. Finally, this fellow is not his wife's keeper.

Yet more of Iain's favoured brand of gutter politics I am afraid.

Anonymous said...

I also must say that I enjoyed Iain's comment that there "was a 1.1% swing from the LibDems to the Conservatives" when Mr Abbott contested the last General Election. To say that without a trace of irony having just gone for the A-list following his hammering in North Norfolk takes some doing!

Tabman said...

Would you trust anyone who calls their daughter Tamarrah, as Caroline Nokes has?

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous (because they always are), I nearly rejected your comment because you haven't said who you are, but I thought it was so ridiculous I'd let it through. If you actually read what I wrote I didn't criticise her or him at all. I merely commented. A comment does notm equate to a criticism. Indeed, i was asking the question if that was LibDem Policy or not as I couldn't remember. Gutter politics indeed. But as a LibDem you;d know more about that than me. Are you listening Peter Black?

Iain Dale said...

Tabman, er, that was a little joke. J O K E. Not something LibDems are familiar with, I guess.

Iain Dale said...

anonymous, - I assume you;re the same one as above, you win the prize. I was waiting to see who would be the first one to point that out. Again, I offered it as a comment - or a point of fact, just as I would expect you to point the same out had I been the candidate. Calm down, dear. It's only a by election!

Inamicus said...

Sounds like you're squirming a bit Iain!!! :)

environment said...

Who cares how environmentally is spelt. The main issue is how to get the US to tackle climate change. For every 1% reduction in US carbon emmissions, the UK would have to reduce carbon emmissions by over 9% to have the same effect!

See carbon savings comparision for details (near the bottom of the web page) with information provided by BP and the CIA.

Geoff said...

Tabman - I used to know Caroline Nokes before she was married, and she was absolutely divine. I won't hear a word said against that delightful young lady. Why isn't she on the A-List?

Withdraw that unwarranted slight on her judgement if you please, Sir!

Andrea said...

"Why isn't she on the A-List?"

because she has already been re-selected.

Anonymous said...

How do the LibDems choose their candidates so quickly?

They tax their membership 'just a penny in the pound' for every day they wait. I remember Paddy Pantsdown started that 'just a penny in the pound on tax will solve this problem' thing...unfortunately for us, Britain has 103 problems.LOL

Chris said...

More importantly,

I thought this comment was tasteless Iain.

"Would you entrust your vote to someone who calls their daughter Tallulah?"

Not impressed.

Iain Dale said...

Chris, just one comment. Get a bloody sense of humour mate.

Niles said...

Lib Dem selection at by-election: letter to all those on approved list sent out. Applications invited in very short order. A by-election panel is convened including federal party representatives and determines criteria by which the applicants will be judged, which are over and above the criteria necessary to stand at a general election. List is screened against the criteria, this may include interviews. All successful applicants are put before a general meeting of the local party who make the final selection. Those present vote one member, one vote by STV. Some provision for postal or proxy voting may be made. The meeting is usually well attended.

Party selection rules make it clear that no-one involved in the process talks to the press, except the returning officer who announces the result. Details of the vote, candidates, candidates unsuccesful and candidates outvoted are all confidential in all selections. The process is democratic, open to party scrutiny through appropriate channels, but it is not public.

Anonymous said...

Having spoken to Ben Abbotts(who is actually a keen reader of this site)today, he has confirmed that his wife doesn't work at a Grammar School now, didn't when he stood for Sevenoaks, and to his knowledge never has done. He says the Sevenoaks LD web site is wrong and has asked for it to be corrected.

Iain Dale said...

anonymous, Well, i did get it off the Sevenoaks LibDem site. I will do an update on the original post. Glad Ben reads this site. Tell him he should do a campaign blog!