Sunday, January 20, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Ann Widdecombe's Successor is...

Helen Grant has been selected to succeed Ann Widdecombe in Maidstone & the Weald. The selection meeting has just concluded, having started at 9am this morning! I confess to not knowing anything at all about Helen, but I do know she topped the voting in the first round, so she has had them all on side right from the start. Good for her!

UPDATE: Helen's website is HERE.
UPDATE: Vicky Ford, who was in the final 9, has just blogged her thoughts in a typically magnanimous way.

34 comments:

Paddy Briggs said...

Surely it will the the electors of the constituency who decide who succeeds Madame W won't it?

Anonymous said...

http://www.helengrant.org/index.html

Anonymous said...

Another lawyer! What happened to selecting candidates from a range of career paths? Good luck to her all the same.

Iain Dale said...

Oh for God's sake. You pick one thing out of her cv to carp at. She's another black woman who has been selected in a safe Conservative seat. Just rejoice at that news. Rejoice!

Anonymous said...

One hopes that nobody get selected just because they are a "black, woman" but it would be great to see more of both in parliamemt. Surely, one of the smartest and most democratic countries in the world can move out of the 18th century. How about two-party-preferred and compulsory voting? Works in Oz. Everyone gets a vote for the final 2 in the race? Everyone has to vote and mostly (well 98%) of them do. Even the bitter losers have to admit they lost fairly.

Newmania said...

The Politics Show talks to Judith Symes about the problems she thinks women face in the Conservatives and why she felt the need to jump ship.
Iain Dale, well know Conservative blogger and one time applicant for Ann Widdecombe's seat will join the debate.


The Politics Show

,,,where were you did I miss you ?

The suspicion will be that she was only picked because of her gender and race .
Ann Widdecombe herself was saying she did not like the system whereby two of the last four had to be women and so she has been favoured already. I recently did a retrospective on the Blair babes and looked at how useless they had been for the most part . The other surprising thing was how well connected in the Party they all were . This is bound to happen when you sacrifice merit for “reflecting society “ ,,…a stupid idea , are they saying that this woman cannot represent me a white man then?
There something exceedingly alienating to the lower middleclass support which is the Conservative bed rock when they have posh chaps at the top and effnick/women troops who are powerless from day one. It is relevant that she is a lawyer because the Conservative Party are doing nothing whatsoever to expand the class spectrum their support and therby making the same mistakes as New labour but even more so( The Symes woman said just this and odious as she is , she had a point )
The people who make the decisions are not the people who will be losing their place . The Grammar school boys are the one left out . People like you perhaps Iain , your face didn`t fit did it but I would be staggered if you’re not ten times as capable of doing a good job for the Party as the candidate.



Still perhaps she is very good , we shall see, but I doubt it

Iain Dale said...

I withdrew from the programme on Friday. They hadn't told me Judith Symes was taking part so I told them they could shove their programme up their collectives arses.

Anonymous said...

why do we maintain a system based on local representation? It made a lot of sense when the carriage/horse ride from the electorate to Westminster took a few days but it is based on a false sense of democracy. If 8% of the electorate wants Green Party reps (not my vote ever)in parliament then why arent they there? It's supposed to represent voters views not their postcode.

One is obviously very careful to change any stable political system but let's grow up and make this one more democratic. Or at least talk about it. Has it not occured to others on this (rightish) website that giving up the usual first-past-the-post result might improve our democracy?

Alan said...

Newmania,

"The suspicion will be that she was only picked because of her gender and race. Ann Widdecombe herself was saying she did not like the system whereby two of the last four had to be women and so she has been favoured already."

Is an interesting concern, but it holds no water in this case. The one piece of gossip I know from inside M&TW was that they were ready to fight tooth and nail with CCHQ over that rule, but actually ended up with a 10/10 split when they picked their final 20 anyway. So the fact that two of those in the final stage were women isn't that surprising.

Anonymous said...

I dont care what the suspicion will be-this candidate is a class act from head to toe and will dispel it very quickly.

Interested to know what ms Widdecombe thinks about her though...

Alan Douglas said...

Overall a splendid lady with one major drawback - she's another bloody lawyer !

I would copy Charles I and BAN all lawyers from MAKING law - their professional self-interest leads to too much law that is too complex and requires - guess who ? - at great expense to "interpret" it.

Alan Douglas

Unsworth said...

I'm sorry Iain, but I disagree with your magnanimous and diplomatic approach.

One might question the Maidstone Conservatives as to which particular skills and abilities this lady brings to the party. She'd better be bleeding good - otherwise the more jaundiced amongst us might just regard this as 'engineering' of the worst kind by some pretty poor party officials.

One man's remarkably biased views, of course.

James Schneider said...

What is to become of poor James Brockenshire?

Jamie said...

i for one think Helen Grant will go very far in the party, completely on merit.

to those of you saying she just won because she'd a coloured woman, have you not read up on her before coming to your snap judgement? she'll be an excellent MP, and a great credit to the party. THAT'S what matters.

Newmania said...

Brilliant Iain !! If you know someone has betrayed their friends what else do you need to know about them ?

Anonymous said...

Brought up in Carlisle so she must be OK

Womble On Tour said...

Blimey, they sure their candidates throught the wringer, don't they ? The pity of this is that this process will land one of the best young Conservative candidates around in a seat which a monkey could win. It would be better if they put the highest calibre people into Labour marginas, like Colne Valley, to take a wild example.

Anonymous said...

It could have been you, you, you!

gman said...

womble on tour:

Yes i can see the logic in that position, but if you fill up the marginals with the talent, when the winds of change blow, they tend to do it without discrimination, and these people will be out on their ear. Getting them into good seats means that they have the potential to build a long term career.

Think about the present government, their big hitters, have been in safe seats. No matter how good Blair was (as a politician, not a leader), if he was in a marginal, the chances are he wouldnt have been in a position to build a reputation and experience to become party leader.

I have seen what happened on a local council. The council had 52 members, a Con group with sixteen, our of power for 20 years, in one election they added fourteen to their numbers, a lot of new younger people, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Winning difficult seats on large swings.

Within eight years everyone of those new councillors was gone, and the party saddled with the old duffers in their safe seats that will only ever leave the Council in a wooden box.

I swear, we had one person who was a councillor, when i got elected, he already had signs of senility, but he always used to look round to put his hand up at the right time, and never caused any trouble.

He was still on the Council when i lost my seat four years later, and at that point, he was much worse.

bebopper said...

Helen's CV suggests she a an ambitious hard-working young woman.
She has, as they say, a great narrative and will help the Tory image no end.
Unless the negative posters on this thread have any evidence that she won't be a credit to the party, they should shut up.

Diablo said...

I predict that Helen Grant will become the first black woman leader of the Conservative Party and will go on to become Prime Minister.

What odds will you give me?

Craig Ranapia said...

Wow, I see why Tony Blair's best asset for so many years was the Conservative Party itself. Any woman or minority person get ahead in the Conservative party it MUST be the result of 'tokenism'; but in the next breath the Tories are slagged off as being a holding pen for Billy Bunter-ish toffs who are too thick to earn a living in the real world.

Could you please pick a shoulder to put the chip on, and stick to it?

And anonymous (@8:00 PM), the only way Australia could be held up as any kind of political role model is through a very thick pair of beer goggles. Australia is a wonderful country, but let's not pretend that its any kind of electoral utopia.

Gallimaufry said...

Compare the excellent qualities of Conservative PPCs like Helen Grant with the worn-out third-raters on the Labour benches and be glad of the painful and often unpopular changes brought about by David Cameron. That equally excellent candidates like Vicky Ford and, let's admit it, Iain Dale are not selected shows the very high calibre of people wishing to be Tory MPs.
Who of note does Labour have to fill the seats of its retiring members? It appears that wannabe Labour Parliamentarians prefer the security of the House of Lords, free of the obligation to represent anyone except their patron.

Unsworth said...

@ bebopper

Why should they 'shut up'? Is this blog an extension of the Conservative Party machine? Are commenters only allowed to express positive and 'approved' views?

That's not for you to decide, is it?

Moron.

Anonymous said...

Like Barack and Hillary rolled into one !!

Anonymous said...

1/ Who is Judith Symes ??

2/ What has she done to so royally upset you, Iain ?

3/ Don't you think it was poor show [no-show?] to welch on a deal that late in the day ??

Anonymous said...

Does this mean as Annie's 'successor' she will be dyeing her hair blonde, speaking in a shrill tone about the evils of cannabis and making asinine programmes about the 'benefit culture' ?

Not to mention tarting her views on life in general to any telly programme, newspaper or radio station willing to throw a few fivers her way...

Let us jolly well hope not...

Anonymous said...

Shock ! Horror ! Probe !

There ARE limits to Dale's media tarting exploits after all...

Qwerty said...

Oh dear.

If this Lawyer is so wonderful, and will win on merit, why give her a safe seat.

Surely if she is the super woman you believe, you don’t parachute her into a cushy number. Like her picture gallery, very media savvy and very very glossy. I think this girl could be a push over, all glam glitz but not much going on up stairs, other than the desire to be a MP for the kudos it will bring her.

julianwhite said...

I've never heard of Helen Grant, but taking a look at the CV on her web-site, I must admit to being impressed. Although I'd have of course preferred Iain selected in the constituency, that sort of candidate is precisely the sort of candidate who should be selected. She doesn't appear to be just a lawyer but someone who has effectively created a business as well.

Sometimes with selections I'm left thinking, she's selected because she's a woman, but not in this instance. In this case, such a strong candidate looks likely to have been selected regardless.

Hannibal said...

Judith Symes is a former Conservative candidate who defected to the Labour Party. She had previously been on the Conservative A List.

She stood for the Conservative Party in Bootle in 2001 and in Brighton Kemptown in 2005. She was a member of the pro-European Tory Reform Group.

James Schneider said...

anonymous at 1:02. Would you care to provide evidence for these claims?

Ed said...

Helen Grant is very impressive. Anyone who suggests she was selected on race or gender grounds should talk to her for 3 minutes. I was lucky enough to see her in action at the Hammersmith selection. She will go far.

Jonny said...

Well what a relief that they didn't select you, Iain! Please stop trying now and stick to blogging!