Friday, October 30, 2009

Are You, or Have You Ever Been...?

I write a fortnightly column for the EDP, and I have great respect for the EDP's political editor Chris Fisher so I shall choose my words carefully. His story today alleges that the Association Chairman was blocked by CCHQ from asking the following question at Liz Truss's selection meeting.
Is there anything in your political, professional or personal life which could conceivably mean that you could attract adverse media publicity either now, in the run-up to the election, or subsequently?

The chairman, Hugh Colver, gave a robust response.
Mr Colver, who worked at Conservative Central Office in 1995, has emphatically denied colluding with it to aid Ms Truss's selection by not asking the 'adverse publicity' question. “I was just waiting for someone to accuse me of that”, he said.

It is true that this question is often asked at the first round of a selection contest. I have no idea whether it was asked at the SW Norfolk Executive Round. I have had it asked in several selection contests, but none in the four selections I have taken part in since the 2005 election. It certainly wasn't asked in Maidstone or Bracknell. So I cannot see there is any kind of conspiracy afoot in South West Norfolk.

I wonder whether other candidates have had it put to them in recent selections.


Anonymous said...

Never mind all that stuff - intersting though it is - are you going to investigate/post on the much more serious matter of Labour's blatant manipulation of the electoral register and postal votes in Glasgow North East as reported by Leaves on the Line amongst others?

Plato said...

I find this really depressing.

If a candidate has a criminal record, fair enough - but a 'moral crime'?

Is this 1950?

A huge number of peeps have had affairs, so what? These happen for a reason - home life is going badly, feeling neglected or pushed away by ones other half. In many cases, it's a way to try to retain the status quo and balance out the emotional needs of the other partner.

I have zero time for arm-chair moralisers. If they have led perfect Mary Whitehouse lives, well that's the fingers of one hand used up so far.

*puts on tin hat in readiness for interweb outrage*

Lola said...

"So, tell me, when exactly did you last beat your wife?" You couldn't make it up could you!

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Yes - I think I have been asked it at every selection I have been to. Indeed I once told the selection panel when I was successful in Bassetlaw about something I had done.. a year or so later it appeared in a diary story in the Express - and guess what... the Association didn't care as it was common knowledge.

Though these days the question itself is may be slightly redundant - given that as you and many others have pointed out, a simple internet search can highlight enough info on people.

Anonymous said...

I think Annons point is worth being given more publicity.

"the number could be as high as 1200 new postal votes registered in the last month alone. There's even an allegation that Labour "

"The register of "normal" voters also appears to have increased by about 4000. Does this sound right for a constituency that is well known for turnouts of around 40 - 45%?"

Anonymous said...

It was reported on the local BBC News last night that CCHQ had been asked by the Association if any of the shortlisted candidates had anything in their past which might cause the party embarrassment and they replied 'no'. This apparently came from one of the delegation from South West Norfolk who went to London to agree the shortlist.

Alex said...

That is a fairly standard question for councillor selections when they candidates have not been pre-selected, but who knows what rules CCHQ might permit if they have already asked the same question to PPCs?

Random said...


Apologies if you have already answered this question, but if the opposition to this lady is not because she had an affair but because she lied to the selection committee (by answering the question in the negative - and I stress this is a hypothetical question, I have no idea if she did), would you still be supporting her?

Tapestry said...

Q. Is the assumption of a Google search now considered sufficient defence before the law , Mi'lud?

A. If the accused is a europhile, they can use this defence, and do whatever they like to whoever they like, without liability. Euro-privilege has replaced Parliamentary Privilege.

But a eurosceptic has to face the full force of the law, and be stripped of any chance of election, even if their indiscretions are exposed on Google, or Yahoo or any other search engine.

They will receive the full force of the media and be hounded out.

Philipa said...

Seems a fair question to me.

But then no-one admitted they were defrauding the tax-payer by flipping houses on expense claims. And I doubt anyone would volounteer er... personal intimacies the red-tops would find interesting.

Unknown said...

It should be asked. Most news stories are only news once, but I guess things are different for Tories.

Paul Linford said...

The Tory Party has clearly moved a very long way from the days when constituency associations rather than CCHQ actually chose the candidats. It is a shame that David Cameron evidently sees this as a neccessary precursor to returning the party to government.

Tapestry said...

Your title alludes to McCarthyism.

That is where EU insiders are right now. Believing themselves above it all, a superior caste, they blieve they are fighting a war against the rest of humanity who it is their duty to goad and bludgeon into correct thinking.

They want to fight nationalists, capitalists, Americans, democrats, racists, sexists, xenophobes, holocaust deniers, homophobes and even adulterers - especially if those adulterers are eurosceptics.

Their tone is strident, accusing, and their faces are sullen and angry. Look at Miliband on TV attacking Kaminski and compare his ugly look to the voice of Anne Atkins. They are one and the same.

They are used to having the game playing their way since 1992 or even 1957, but suddenly with Klaus, the Irish, Cameron, the German Constitutional Court and other resistance, sprouting all over the place, they are getting very angry.

They want to ask 'are you, or have you ever been..'. They see evil in every face, and enemies at every corner. They are right. Their enemies are growing in confidence and number. Time is no longer on their side.

Jimmy said...

I think it's an excellent question. Anyone answering "no" should be disqualified and sent away to get some life experience.

Stono said...

I still think your missing the point about this, its nothing directly to do with the affair.

Its to do with the level of trust the local association feel they now have with a candidate, who they initially knew very little about because she has no background in the area, who they will have to support and campaign locally for and field the awkward questions on behalf of.

theres an old story from Russia about two cosmonauts training for a mission together. Both were excellent cadets top of their class, efficient,always completed their tasks successfully never made a mistake.

but both failed the selection course, why ? because in none of their training did they ever speak to one another, there was a fundamental lack of communication and trust between them that made them competent enough to do the necessary technical skills required, but they were never going to work successfully together, with potentially disastrous results in a crisis

a local association has to work successfully together with a candidate or an MP,they have to have that bond of trust. they dont want to be made to feel idiots or just a step on a ladder to success, they dont want to feel like they are just ticking a box.

even if Ms Truss hadnt been asked that question, she should have had the nouse as a prospective MP to volunteer it as relevant information, because as was demonstrated the media dont care if CCHQ "cleared" it not, theyll just print it and damn the consequences.

Anonymous said...

The real issue here is not the question but whether or not you consider Ms Truss's affair with Mark Field to have been something to declare as detrimental or not.
Personally I think that although being yet another notch on serial filanderer Field's bedpost demonstrates a certain lack of taste and judgement, it is nothing to do with Liz Truss's suitability to be an MP or candidate.

Local Member said...

Some of the opposition to Miss Truss may be due to the fact that she was an activist in the Liberal Democrats, and attacked the Monarchy at that party's conference.

Has Miss Truss(t) really changed her views, or is she shifting to a more comfortable political home? The SW Norfolk members probably were not told any of this.

Steve Tierney said...

Without wanting to be difficult I listened to that clash on the Vine show between you and Anne-whatsername and to be honest I don't think you fared that well.

I actually wanted to feel you'd won, since I agree with your position. But she made a very good case, I thought. And you got a little truculant and petty, which devalued your argument.

One thing I've seen displayed talking to other Conservatives about this is that there really are a whole LOT of us who hold pretty heady ideals about faithful marriage. Some people I greatly respect agree with the Association view that this may be a deal-breaker.

We can argue about whether they should have googled it - at which point the response is "why should we have to, shouldn't she have just come clean in person?". (In truth, many associates led by older folk don't see the Internet as their first port of call the way the younger contingent might.)

We can say that we shouldn't choose on 'moral' issues - at which point the response is that we were happy to say how "moral" MPs should have been during the expenses scandal - even those who followed the 'rules' as they were stated.

As somebody committed to localism and democracy when Anne-whatsername started talking about "What matters is that local folk get the candidate they want" I felt she was on some very solid ground, debate-wise.

Every argument one side makes can be countered by the other entirely validly. I agree with your contention that the fact she once had an affair really shouldn't be an issue. But its not as 'cut and dried' as some would prefer it look.

Anonymous said...

So I quoted the "skeletons in the cupboard" reference in the Guide to you word for word and you didn't print my comment. Cowardy custard.

True Belle said...

I suspected Anne Atkins has always been rather high arsed and moralising. We do not need political or religious bigots , do we?

I am equally sad that such a spirited woman like Liz Truss was put through the moral hoop.

Scalp collectors like her are the ultimate weapon and will be a welcome addition as a cautionary tale for straying men. An effective parliamentary asset!

Anne Atkins is a frigid old termagant. Do hope she will stay out of the media for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Is the reason the same it wasn't asked in the other two? Watch this space!

Andy said...

"Local Member" - she might have been an activist for the Lib Dems once, but that was when she was at university - in 1994!

I am 25, but when I was at university I thought a whole load of things that I don't think anymore!

If we're really saying that a person who was against the monarchy in 1994, when they were a student, isn't capable of being a proper Tory 15 years later, then I think that's sad.

David said...

I was asked this question at a selection comittee about ten years ago - specifically 'if there were ny skeletons in my cupboard?' I quoted Alan Clark's alleged response on a similar occasion 'I'm afraid it's so full that I can't even shut the door' - before apologising that my life was so busy that alas I didn't have time to engage in any of tht exciting sort of stuff. Got a lot of laughs ---- but not selected.