Wednesday, October 13, 2004

A Day in the Office

It's not generally known that candidates have to keep the wolf from the door just like anyone else. We don't get paid, we don't get expenses - just for the record! So today was spent at the office working. No politics, no campaigning... well, perhaps just a little. Had a bit of a gossip with various people about the South West Norfolk parliamentary selection. It's now down to the final 6, of whom I personally know three. Having been through it myself I really feel for them.


Westbury-on-Trym Lib Dems said...

Any thoughts on Chris Fisher's piece in today's EDP on this? His tone seems exceptionally scathing - all male and not one with a serious link to the county. It seems surprising that the local former constituency chair was ruled out as well as your illustrious predecessor in NN.

Is it all just a stitch up to get Mr Hurd a seat? None of the others appear to be even halfway credible...

Iain Dale said...

I thought the EDP piece today was a typical piece of EDP stirring. So they're all male. Big deal. Are we really saying that John MacGregor wasn't a good MP? There is absolutely no stitch up. If you know how these selections work you'd know it is actually impossible to fix. I'm not favouring any candidate but the three I know would all be excellent and have a great track record of achievement. I am sick of the EDP's hypocrisy on this. Does the fact that the editor comes from Hertfordshire mean that he can't edit a Norfolk newspaper? No, of course not. Why on earth we can't move on from these purile issues I just do not know.

Westbury-on-Trym Lib Dems said...

Well, well. I suppose I will have to eat my words about the Hurd boy being a shoe-in now! Evidently London was too local so they went for the Dorset lad instead. I just hope Mr Fraser was not asked to come along to Mr Flook's talk on how to beat the Liberals - it would have been a bit insensitive.

Iain Dale said...

I couldn't possible comment! I gather Chris won on the first ballot, so if the EDP want to try to stir things up I suspect they will have a job on their hands... No one mentions of course that the Labour candidate in SW Norfolk, Charmain somebody or other keeps writing letters to the EDP from an address in Grantham. And of course Mr Aalders whatever in Norwich South actually lives in Ipswich. That'll go down well then.

Westbury-on-Trym Lib Dems said...

I tend to agree that the debate on candidates' origins can get very parochial. I met a fellow who had been up on a jaunt from university to campaign for the Lib Dems in a town council by election in North Walsham some years ago. He apparently had the following a conversation with a Labour councillor:

CLLR: He's not even from around here, you know.

CAMPAIGNER: Who isn't?

CLLR: That Norman Lamb.

CAMPAIGNER: Oh. Where's he from?

CLLR: He's from Norwich. Bloody carpetbagger.

CAMPAIGNER (NOT LOCAL HIMSELF!): Oh. How far away is Norwich?

CLLR: About 15 miles.

CAMPAIGNER (FEIGNING SHOCK): Blimey! Double figures!

To be fair to the EDP though, selection committees (all parties) should take more care to give members a real choice. The danger is that the selection committee in SW Norfolk appear to have been looking for an early middle aged, middle class man with no particular local roots but who looked like the sort who could be a cabinet minister one day (like his predecessor). As a result, they ended up presenting members with Hobson's choice.

Perhaps the Tory membership as a whole in that area wanted that sort of candidate, but we will never know now. They may equally have wanted, say, a 50-something local councillor sort with no real shadow cabinet pretensions but a solid "fighting for Thetford" record. Or they may have wanted a new Tory young teacher type like the Norwich man. Or they may have wanted a local businesswoman who would ensure that they continued to provide the Tories' female contingent.

To my mind, it is a bit of a shame when selection committees have such a clear idea of what THEY want that they fail to offer members a real choice.