This rather boring and tedious argument is played out in every election campaign, especially by-elections as each of the candidates seeks to prove, in the words of the Harry Enfield character that "I'm considerably more local than you".
Mark Pack's evidence for Edward Timpson not being local included these astonishing shock horror facts...
- He was born in Knutsford (20 miles from Crewe)
- Went to Durham university
- Er, he lives in Cheshire
- Ran the New York Marathon (!)
This is a truely desperately embarrassing small minded dim witted attack. Do we really have nothing better to do? Nothing better to discuss? I despair.Elaine Woodard says:
Why do all Parties seem to want to get into a debate about how local a candidate is, particularly in by-elections? What is more important is what a candidate stands for and how good an MP they’d make. This sort of sniping just turns me off.Hywel Morgan says:
If the election is going to be conducted on this level I won’t bother getting in my car! We referred to both Michael Carr (Ribble Valley) and David Chidgey (Eastleigh) as the local candidate and neither of them lived in the Constituency. Both had strong links with the area which meant that it was firstly credible to make such a claim but also that any attacks on them for not being local would backfire.He may not live in the constituency - but lets not try to make him out to be Tim Palmer mark 2.
Joe Taylor agrees:
Hywel has a point - This Sort Of Thing doesn't really make me want to go out and deliver loads of leaflets, even in sunny Crewe.
More positive stuff about our candidate, please!
RMC has decided that he's had enough of the LibDems if this puerile attack is the best they can do...
Mark, this is pathetic stuff. You are the Head of Innovations for the party. I effectively pay your salary out of donations, whilst small I admit, I make to the party so how about some innovative thinking.
This constant desire for "local" candidates is a real hindrance on LibDem progress and getting good quality candidates. It is an ethos, which results seemingly in the lead local councillor/activist getting selected. I am quite keen to become a PPC, however, I grew up on the south coast, have worked in London, and now work in the South West and discover my local party chair needs to sponsor my application. I am not really local to anywhere so I have decided not to bother whilst the party has this "local is best" mindset.
But the piece de resistance is provided by Ruth Bright, former LibDem, Candidate for East Hampshire.
Mark - whilst I was Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for East Hants (claiming to be a local) I had the temerity to give birth to a baby outside the constituency. I am really sorry about that - sort of feel I let the side down there.
Let me hold my hands up and admit that I was as guilty as anyone in playing the local card. In North Norfolk I actually lived in the constituency whereas the LibDem MP lived 15 miles away in Norwich. I constantly reminded people of this, but a fat lot of good it did me.
In the Bromley by-election, the LibDem Candidate Ben Abbotts lived a mile outside the constiutuency in Beckenham, and the Tory Bob Neill lived three or four miles away in Tower Hamlets, yet if you believed LibDem literature, their man was a complete local and Bob was from outer Mars. Indeed, Ben Abbotts' situation is eactly akin to that of Edward Timpson.So, does it matter where someone lives, do voters actually give a damn? In truth, the answer is that some do, some don't. But far more important is the quality of the candidate and what they stand for. The truth of the matter is that Edward Timpson, from what I have seen so far, seems to be an outstanding candidate and that's why he is going to attract this kind of attack.
I'm going to be very circumspect in future about what I write about this by-election. Ealing taught me a big lesson, and while I will readily point out facile posts like Mark Pack's you're not going to get a daily running commentary on what's going on there. I think I will leave that to my esteemed colleagues on ConservativeHome.