Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Candidate No Longer

Last night I attended a reception at Number 10 and had a brief chat with David Cameron. He said he hoped I would try for a seat at the next election. I explained that that wouldn't be happening and that I had made a decision well before the last election not to try again if I didn't get a seat then.

I also said that I felt that at 52 (which I will be if this parliament lasts five years) it was unlikely that I would be selected anyway. I've made my views known before about the virtues of selecting older candidates, with real life experience, but politics in this country is becoming youth obsessed and I doubt whether I would be able to stem that particular tide. Of course older candidates do get selected, but they are very much the exception rather than the rule - exactly the opposite of how it should be.

Anyway, there are things I'd rather do over the next few years rather than flog what I consider to be a dead horse. I've always wanted to be a parliamentarian, but I'm not obsessive about it - perhaps that is where I have gone wrong!

So, to formally bring this part of my life to an end I have written to Sayeeda Warsi, the new chairman of the party, to ask her to remove my name from the party's list of approved candidates.

I will, of course, continue to help the party in a voluntary capacity in any way I can, and as much as my business and media activities allow!

I feel strangely liberated...

53 comments:

Andy said...

Cameron was right: you should seek a seat and stand. Damn your age, and actually we need more people who have had a life and done things other than politics. At 52 you could sit in 2 or 3 Parliaments and that could make a huge contribution to our people and to the State.

ulric said...

Its a very sad state of affairs when someone who has done so much to further the cause is not recognised. You have given candid explanations each time you failed to become a PPC but still cannot understand what motivated the local associations like the one that thought someone who was a labour member 2 years ago would do a better job than you.
I wish you all the best, keep up the good work!

info@oceanwavecommunications.co.uk said...

That's a shame. You are right about Parliament needing to reflect a broad range of experience. The Country will not benefit from being run almost exclusively by career politicians and policy wonks. In no way will it help politicians and political parties to reconnect with voters.

John Moorcraft said...

Having spent 5 years comprehensively researching youth politics in the United Kingdom in order to understand who the next generation are, what they think and what they do, I would like to state that I agree 100% with your assessment.

Politics has become a youngsters game these days and the most worrying thing about my research is that some of the intellectually and socially inadequate young people I interviewed whilst completing my thesis will either one day enter Parliament or they have obtained work in the Westminster Village. All because they are obsessive enough to do the shameless networking required...

Malcolm Clarke said...

Considering you know your stuff I think you have time yet. Personal decision of course but I think many worse candidates than you out there. I would have one more go at the next election. Your not even 50 yet!

Stephen Wigmore said...

Very sad to hear the news, Iain. YOu would have made a fine MP, anywhere you stood.

fugitiveink said...

Andy's right. While younger people can contribute to politics in distinctive ways, it would be a terrible thing if this ruled out participation by people with real life experience and all that brings - e.g. a sense of perspective, better judgement, strong nerves in a crisis, maybe a little more tolerance. I'm sure you've thought long and hard about your decision, and that you'll do a lot for politics in all sorts of other ways, but - well, it's a pity, as you'd have been an excellent MP.

JuliaM said...

That's a shame, but I'm not sure you'd have enjoyed it as much as you think you would...

The thing to do is not to look back with regret and think 'what if..?'. Look forward.

sagenz said...

A terrible, but understandable shame. You would have made a fine MP.
Phil Sage

Roger Thornhill said...

The tide of the obsession needs to be stemmed and reversed.

It cannot be done by shrinking away from it.

Although I have pointed out you have on occasion reacted to events against the Rule of Law, those are isolated events. Am I perfect? No. You are also a Tory happy to serve Cameron, but I would still urge you to reconsider your position.

As Andy says, we need real people who have had some exposure to the real world, to running a company, to dealing with the State from the OUTSIDE not siting inside observing what seems strange behavour in the aquarium.



Never say never, Iain.

freddo41 said...

Well, I'm writing to Sayeeda Warsi warning her that an impostor is writing fake letters under your name and not to take a blind bit of notice of anything she might receive from anyone claiming to be you.
Neither the party nor the country can afford to waste your sort of talent.

Bermondsey Mum said...

'Parliamentarian' includes the House of Lords, no ? I don't think the dream is quite over yet...

Ignacity said...

My local MP - first elected this year in a marginal by 333 votes - is over 50 and he is excellent. And I doubt if a young candidate would have won this tightly fought contest. He had the great benefit of offering experience and that helped.

Before you make up your mind finally, you should go away and reflect.

lee said...

I agree that it is a loss to the Commons. But perhaps not to the Upper House???

Bristol Steve said...

Silly, Iain. Politically you're worth 10 of any random grouping of the present incumbents. Nulli illigitimati carborundum, or words to that effect!
keep up the good work.
Bristol Steve

Unsworth said...

I understand your considerable disappointment, but equally I'm certain you can do much greater things outside Parliament. You're far too much of an independent soul to simply act as lobby fodder - and Parliament is a grinding machine, as all those fresh, new, starry eyed, hopeful MPs will soon find out. Those who can adapt easily will do well, but the others will struggle.

Havocman said...

That's a shame, Iain. You would be a superior MP to the vast majority of current incumbents.

Ean Craigie said...

Iain, while I applaud you for standing by your beliefs, something mre than a few of out MP's cannot do, I would also ask you to think again. We need, as has been said before in this blog, people who have lead a life, who know what the bumps of ife feel like. Could you not at least conscider a by election between now and then??

You got me back into politics when you stood in Bracknell and you example of free speaking needs to be continued

Sabretache said...

I made a similar choice may years ago. Even spoke at the CP conference back in 1977 when a younger (then me) William Hague - sporting a shock of unruly blond hair rather overshadowed my piss-poor performance. Anyway, having passed what was only the second of the shiny new candidates lists selection gatherings - in a hotel somewhere near Ellesmere Port as I recall - I set about politics with a vengeance. Gerald Howarth will never know how close he came to failing his selection for Cannock and Burntwood in 1982. I was a local County Councillor and shortlisted - etc etc but, with the sudden real prospect of becoming a Tory MP with all that meant for annual family holdays in the Border areas of Northern Ireland and Sligo/Donegall, I was faced with a crunch choice - and withdrew.

You wouldn't recognise my politics now - though my odd comments over the past 5 years or so will probably have me slotted as a wacko, lefty - bordering on traitorous- loonie.

The thing is young politicos are so much more naive than the old-timers - that, together with laudable ambition, renders them that much more pliable, corruptible etc etc by the servants of our hidden permanent government that constitute real power in this country - as opposed to the heated tribal debates over trivia that pass for democratic politics.

If you're an honest man - and despite my sometimes withering barbed comments I think you are - you may find yourself on a similar journey

Garveigh said...

Iain, you should give it another try at the next election. 52 is not old, and if you did 2 full Parliments you´d still only be 62, what is retirement age now? (and perhaps more importantly, what will it be then?) keep trying, the Tory Party has a proud history of using talent from across the board. I can understand that some of the more ´conservative` local associations(pls note small c) may find you a little too ´high profile` for them, but its their loss, withdraw the letter!

Rebel Saint said...

Have you considered standing for Labour? I hear that in order to promote fairness & equality they will be selecting all gay, over 50's short-lists?! They will not be discriminating on political grounds as that is discriminatory!!

neilmack said...

"I feel strangely liberated..."

I feel strangely disappointed. I hope the choice works out well for you personally, but like most people here I have a definite feeling that this is a loss.

Good luck.

Irene said...

Iain - Give it another go.

jailhouselawyer said...

"I explained that that wouldn't be happening and that I had made a decision well before the last election not to try again if I didn't get a seat then".

That's a relief.

John Tyrrell said...

I can't really figure out why anyone would want to become an MP - they seem to me to have become glorified social workers. I think you have made a good decision.

jbw said...

Are you not burning all your bridges by withdrawing now?

How on earth can you know if this Parliament will last five years?

More like 5 months if they screw up!

MikeyP said...

What a shame, Iain. I think you reconsider, as there is a lack of experience in Parliament, at least the HoC. Anyway, at 52 you are a mere youngster

Giovanni said...

Iain, quite frankly you are far more influential as you are now, one of the leading voices of Conservative politics both on and off the Blogosphere than you would ever be as a backbench MP.
You have one of the most important COnsevrative blogs in Britain, you have created a monthly magazine that discusses politics, you spearheaded an internet television channel devoted to politics, and you've done more! Name any ten Tory backbenchers that have accomplished this much!

ToryBlog.com said...

Two words for you Mr Dale: 'Jamie Carragher' ;-)

FFLorist said...

Actually, I think that's a good thing. Having read your blog for a few months it would seem you have too many fingers in too many pies. If I was your constituent, I'd wonder just how much I mattered. I would want to know that being an MP was about what mattered to the public, not a glorified ego trip or access for my other businesses...

Dan Sullivan said...

Surely a reformed 2nd chamber should be a suitable place for you to find a way to contribute more widely to the public discourse?

Gallimaufry said...

Two parliaments is about right for public service as a backbencher, any more is self-serving. What better job is there for a true democrat to hold the government to account over its policies and make sure every penny is spent wisely. Please change your mind.

Richard Wells said...

Well whether you are interested in becoming a Tory MP or not, I hope you won't be taking up this particular offer....

http://www.democracyforum.co.uk/english-democrats/77770-english-parliament-supporter-iain-dale-throws-towel-conservative.html

Richard Gadsden said...

I hope you will consider putting your name forward for the elections to the House of Lords when they are begun. A single fifteen year term starting in 2012 or 2013 would take you until around retirement age and would seem like an excellent way of putting your undoubted skills at the country's service

Kevin said...

that is such a shame iain - you would make a brilliant MP - please think again - we need more people like you as MP's

you have business experience and you are extremely fair minded and kind but most of all you are thoughtful. and those kind of MP's are in a minority. i hope perhaps you might change your mind.

i feel you would make a terrific balance between the left of the tory party and the right. and i think the consituency were nuts to turn you down as their PPC.

( as an aside though i was not that impressed with you going to a gay only event - i passionatly belief in gay rights - but to single people out for a visit to no 10 just because they fit a special interest group is wrong)

Harry Hayfield said...

Why not stand for the local elections instead (or even as Mayor for one of these large cities)?

Simon Gardner said...

Which rather beggars the more pertinent question as to why on earth you weren’t selected this time. Bound to have been your best bet to be honest.

I still find it all a bit mystifying...

Sean Haffey said...

Look at the front bench of any of the three main parties. Not much real life experience there: worryingly too little, and what there is too often is dominated by lawyers.

Stay sane.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Dont totaly close the door Iain. You never know how events change things.

Robert said...

There is no point in becoming a member of a regional assembly in greater Europe. The only person with any power is Dave as our representative on the Council of Ministers.

It is about time we understood what has happened. Dave as I write is giving up the economic governance of this country to go along with all the other powers he was willing to hand over with his acceptance of Lisbon.

The Tory party is a bunch of Quislings. Why would you wish to be one of their MP's?

Bird said...

Wrong decision Iain. It costs nothing to stay on the list, so just carry on with blogging, publishing, etc and if you're called by a constituency you can go along not worrying too much whether you get the nod or not.
Go on, call the Baroness and tell her to forget the letter.

Faustus said...

You have a name.
You have a platform.
You have credibility.
You have independence.
You know how the Conservative Party works.

If you became an MP you would lose your credibility and independence.

So you have made the right decision IMHO.

Tony

Mr T said...

A shame, Iain. Yes, politics has become youth-obsessed, but it has also become distinctly mediocre. If there is one place, one institution that we should avoid mediocrity in, then that place must be Parliament.
Without wanting to sound like a sycophant, I would urge you to reconsider - our party and our government would do well with more people of your caliber.

Don said...

I think Giovanni makes a good point. As a respected commentator and blogger you may well have more influence than the average MP.
The party machines in Parliament tend to squeeze the individuality out of politics, and very few people in other careers will be tempted to get involved.
Why you were not selected is a mystery to me when I see some of those who have.

John said...

Hahaha! This reminds me of the day Carlton Palmer announced his retirement from international football.

Glyn Davies said...

Iain, I've just been elected to the House of Commons aged 66 - and am looking forward to a long and successful career. And I was 210th on the Conservative targat seat list!! Why on eath would you retire while being a mere lad.

longrun2 said...

It's got to be your personal choice, Iain, but I know people who stood as a Parliamentary candidates after retiring, so I should encourage you to think again. 52 is not that old these days.

Terry said...

Please reconsider. What kind of message does it send when people as young as you give up?
We have just had 13 years of disastrous government by a group who've never had a proper job and no life experience between them.
I believe David Cameron's choice for Chancellor was very poor. I respect his loyalty but George Osborne does not have the very necessary experience required. It would have been better to have Ken Clarke - who has done the job brilliantly - with George learning the ropes to take over after the next election.
Similarly we need folk of your age and experience who bring knowledge and common sense to the table. These are essential if the country is to be sensibly governed.
Think about it - again.

Paul Linford said...

My MP, Pauline Latham, has just entered the House of Commons at a rather more advanced age than 52 - it would be ungallant to say how much more! She didn't come into public life until she was in her late 30s when, as chair of governors at a local school whose sixth form was under threat of abolition from a loony-left county council, she found herself drawn more and more into local politics. She eventually became a councillor herself and was elected MP for Mid-Derbyshire on 7 May. I am sure she will do a great job for her constituents even though she would probably be the first to accept that the prospect of a mnisterial career has almost certainly passed her by.

Anyway the point is I agree wholeheartedly with the first poster: we need more people who have had a life and done things other than politics, and at 52 you could still make a huge contribution. All of that said, I completely understand why, at a human level, you would not want to spend another five years on the parliamentary selection treadmill - if indeed this parliament lasts that long.

Mrs Rigby said...

I think you've got a point Iain, but don't burn your boats too quickly, and don't dismiss the idea of local politics.

jojoko said...

You are probably more influential doing what you are doing now than you would be as an MP. The feeling of relief surely means you have made the right personal decision.

The King of Wrong said...

Iain, I'm sorry to hear that you won't be standing for another seat, but it sounds like you've been leaning that way for quite a while.

You already seem to get more (and better quality) air time than most backbenchers so, in terms of getting a message across, perhaps it's better to be a famous blogger than an anonymous MP!

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

When are you going to run naked down Whitehall dear?