It seems that Nigel Hastilow really did resign himself. Some of us had thought that maybe he had been "resigned", if you see what I mean. An article on the TELEGRAPH website reports what he said in an interview this morning on TALKSPORT where he refused to accept the terms of a statement drafted by Andy Coulson. Part of the deal was, so he says, that he would, in future, have to submit each article he wrote for the Wolverhampton Express & Star to CCHQ for prior vetting. He decided this would compromise his integrity and that he'd rather resign.
In theory this is no different to the BBC asking to see articles written by its employees before they appear in the media. However, I have to say this has given me real pause for thought. I am not a candidate, but I am on the Party's approved list. I too could not accede to any similar demand. I have to say that in all the time I have written this blog I have only once had a complaint from the Party about something I had written, and that was more than a year ago. I both refused to back down or apologise, as I thought it 'fair comment' at the time and still do.
There have certainly been occasions when I have been tempted to write something which might have come back to haunt me, but each time I have counted to ten and thought better of it. It's called self censorship.
There has to be an unspoken agreement when you become a candidate. You just don't do anything which would bring the party into disrepute. This doesn't mean you necessarily become a robot, but it is perfectly possible to make a point without appearing to be disloyal. You just have to avoid saying something which anyone with half a brain can see would be used against yourself and the party. And that is where Nigel Hastilow went wrong.
Danny Finkelstein reckons the whole episode is not about whether Nigel Hastilow is a racist - it's whether he's an idiot. I think everyone is entitled to one error, but with Nigel there was an unfortunate track record. Writing a blog or a newspaper column can be fraught with such dangers. But if he wasn't clever enough to spot the dangers, would he have made a very effective MP? I guess now we'll never know.