Wednesday, 22 January 2014

My slogan - 'Better the Devil you know?'

Recent revelations and reports of resignations will have embarrassed the top brass of the South East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association. The embarrassment is deserved. In any other organisation the top brass would have resigned en masse. It isn't too late, even now. 

My interest in the matter is that I want an able and broadly representative person to represent me and this great constituency in the House of Commons. Moreover, I want an MP who is sympathetic to the views of most people in both town and country who abhor, as I do, the so-called 'sports' of fox hunting, hare coursing, etc.

As to the first point, I was told by a person who was present at the 'open primary' selection meeting that the selected candidate would be 'in the Cabinet in no time at all.' I responded to this person by saying, 'Yes, but, will she relate to South East Cambridgeshire?' To my astonishment, the person said, 'Probably not.'

As to the second point, I wrote (by recorded delivery on the 7th of December last) asking the then selected candidate to let me know how she intended to vote should a possible repeal of the Hunting Act 2004 (which banned fox hunting, hare coursing, etc.) come before the Commons. The reply, in e-mail form, took until the 6th of January to reach me. It disappointed in that I saw it as being typically London-lawyerly. It said that she 'would canvass opinion' and that she 'at that stage [a possible repeal] would very much look forward to hearing your [my] views in detail.' I replied immediately indicating disappointment and stating that a possible repeal had been the subject of lively and widespread debate and discussion throughout the country ever since the Act's passing. I thought that she should have an opinion one way or another and I was pressing her as hard as I dared at that stage. I pointed out that I had stood (as an independent) against the then Mr James Paice at the 2010 election. I said that I had lost big time but that I had made a point, a point which I was prepared to make again. I have received nothing more from the candidate.

I make now some more comments:

The idea of having an 'open primary' was and is commendable. A successful one was held at Totnes in Devon. No fewer than 16,947 people are said to have taken part. I understand that something over 100 people did so in South East Cambridgeshire. That was pretty pathetic: the thing ought to have been advertised more widely.

As a mistake in counting the ballot papers at the 'open primary' appears to have been made, it would have been sensible and right to have re-run the whole process. It isn't too late, even now.

I spoke to Mr Peter Cresswell, the Association chairman, regarding the lack of a prompt response from the candidate to my letter of the 7th of December. At that time, which was before the now infamous 'second meeting,' Mr Cresswell took great pains to tell me about his own integrity. I didn't doubt it then, but I do now.

I have seen some of the letter from Mr Brian Ashton, the Association president, supposedly sent to Association members before the infamous 'second meeting.' Mr Ashton referred to 'unsubstantiatable suggestions.' I had not come across the first word before and neither has my spellchecker. Mr Ashton often uses long words where short ones would be better.

I am amazed that the now-knighted Sir James Paice played any part in the now infamous 'second meeting.' It is not the job of a retiring MP to promote a particular successor. Sir James is soon to be part of the past: he ought to have known his place.

Heidi Allen has been the most obvious loser in this messed-up process. Other losers have been the eminently electable and suitable local people who were peremptorily passed over at an early stage. It appears that Conservative Central Office had an agenda - an agenda that was pursued with typical Central Office ruthlessness.

I said that I was prepared to make a point again. If I make that point again it will be as an independent again. I am reasonably well-known throughout South East Cambridgeshire but I don't suppose that I am liked by everybody.

My election slogan is therefore likely to be, 'Better the Devil you know.'

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