There has been a lot of response to Charlotte Gore's post last week where she ruled herself out of standing as PPC for Halifax and gave a number of reasons why she felt she was not suitable to be one ever. Here is a flavour:
Amongst the many reasons why I would make a terrible PPC my personal favourite is this blog. Oh, it’ll take a day or so, but any campaign run by me could be derailed very quickly by finding a few choice quotes. Charlotte Gore wants to axe the welfare state! Charlotte Gore wants to cut spending! Charlotte Gore is pro Business and anti Union! Charlotte Gore wants to legalise drugs! Charlotte Gore thinks the BNP should be allowed on television! That’s just the start of it. There’s enough in this blog to kill any political career one hundred times over.
she also drafts the following letter:
Dear Halifax,I’m looking for someone. It might be you. It might be someone you know. This is someone who’s sick of politicians and sick of mainstream politics. That’s most of us these days, and who could blame us?The person I’m looking for gets angry that the Government takes £10 billion pounds - more than twice as much as the once mighty HBOS ever earnt before tax - from cigarette duties alone. They get furious that £30 worth of petrol includes £20 of tax… and for what? This person feels ill when they discover the Government is now spending more than the entire British population takes home in wages, and they ask: For what? Where is the money going?This person looks around and sees a country brought to its knees, surviving only on loans from the rest of the world. This person knows that Halifax’s biggest employer is the council, and it makes this person angry to think that a town that was at the very heart of the industrial revolution could be sunk so low as to survive only on scraps from the Government table. This person thinks we should be better than this.But that’s not all. The person I’m looking for looks around and sees a country where trainspotters - of all people - are arrested under anti-terrorism laws and where it has become illegal to take photographs of the police. They see a Government determined to censor the internet, to monitor their emails and internet use. They see more and more rules and laws telling people how they should live and behave: Don’t eat. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Don’t drive. Don’t say this. Don’t say that. Don’t vote for them. This person thinks Governments are supposed to be servants of the people, not the other way around.If you see this person, will you pass on a message? I’d be very grateful. The message is this: “You are missed. Please come back.”Yours Sincerely,Charlotte Gore
I posted the following in the comments on the thread:
Charlotte. I feel very strongly that people like you should stand. The very fact that you have the guts and integrity to make your strongly held views known and back them up with robust argument and intellectual rigour makes you an ideal candidate to run for parliament and hold the government to account when you get there.I understand where you are coming from but I absolutely hate, repeat HATE the fact that many people by the time they get into parliament are anodyne speak your weight robots who speak an almost unintelligble language and appear to have no serious beliefs or underpinning to their views.So what if you have said a few things that would get the Daily Mail riled? They need to be taken on. It is only through people like you that it will ever happen.I understand that this is a difficult seat to fight and it would likely be for naught so I am not even necessarily saying you should go for this one but please, please do not rule yourself out from ever standing which is what you seem to be saying.
Later on James Graham of Quaequam Blog fame posted the following comment:
I think you are right and that some of the people on this thread are quite naive: you are totally unsuitable candidate material. If it is any consolation, I am too.While I think it would be a nod in the right direction, a change in the ‘boring’ electoral system ultimately won’t make either of us more electable either.I don’t actually think it is that bad that the people who tend to rise to the top of politics have relatively porous views. MPs have to be all-rounders. What you haven’t addressed is how frustrating your life would be battling away at your libertarian agenda in a Parliament where the vast majority of MPs were at best indifferent. How long would it be able to maintain your interest? It would certainly bore me. Why else do single issue political parties like UKIP adopt stance that they won’t actually do any work in the Parliament they are elected to, and just hoover up the expenses for five years?There are hundreds of different ways to make a difference in politics. Just concentrate on those.
Just to quickly summarise:
Charlotte's argument against herself being suitable seems to be twofold. Firstly she thinks that her views are too extreme and could easily be used against her. Secondly the fact that many of her views are stridently set out on her blog for all to see means that she can't even use the time honoured method of keeping quiet about her real views on things.
James' argument is that MPs have to be good all-rounders (Jacks of all trades, Masters of none?) and that someone like Charlotte with very passionate views on civil liberties for example would quickly tire of the drudgery of the day to day life of an MP dealing with myriad important but often unexciting issues.
I completely and totally disagree with James' and Charlotte's assertions that they are unsuitable to stand as parliamentary candidates. I have not met either of them (yet) but I have interacted with them online and read enough of their blog posts to be able to say with confidence that our parliament would be enhanced were they to be elected MPs. Of this I am sure.
I am 34 years old. I only joined a political party (the Lib Dems) a year ago. I have been fascinated with politics for as long as I can remember but I sated my political appetite by hoovering up political newspaper comment (and latterly political blogs) as well as watching all the TV programmes and analysis. For years I thought that I did not want to get directly involved in politics itself and was happy to sit on the sidelines.
However I decided last year that I had had enough of doing this and I wanted to get involved. I was so tired of seeing politicians not answer questions and not engage with issues properly when involved in "debate". I cannot express how strongly I feel that politics should be open to everyone and not conducted in a secret code only accessible to people who have followed it closely for 20 years and who are able to parse things to understand what is really meant. I find it absolutely infuriating that most politicians find it impossible to be straight with people.
So what if someone thinks that the current drug laws are not working. To me that is self evident from looking at the objective facts. It should not be a political career destroying taboo to talk about this. It should not be off-limits to be honest about what we think should happen with public spending or taxes either. These issues are central to any serious debate about the political direction of the country and we have allowed our senior politicians to reduce the issues to a preposterous game of "YOU WANT TO CUT X THOUSAND TEACHERS!!1" and "YOU WANT TO INTRODUCE A TAX BOMBSHELL!!!11".
I am utterly, utterly sick of this way of politics being played out. UTTERLY. This is why I got involved and I refuse to play the game by these pathetic rules. I do say what I really think about things, I agree with much of what Charlotte says and am delighted to see her saying it.
I am distressed to see James also ruling himself out. His blog-posts are meticulously and precisely crafted to communicate whatever message he wishes to get across and are often persuasive in a way that I myself aspire to on here. James is one of the reasons I both joined the party and got more heavily involved in blogging. If there was any justice, James would already be an MP!
He makes the point that there are other ways to contribute and of course he is correct. Most people involved do not end up as MPs and there are councils and all sorts of other positions within and outside of the party from where people of passion and commitment can contribute. But I still think that the fact that both of these extremely talented people feel they are unsuitable for our primary political chamber speaks volumes not about them, but about how completely bereft the system that we, the people of this country have allowed the political class to construct.
I am not really sure what else to say about this now other than I am determined to do what I can from my little corner to push for politicians generally and Lib Dems in particular to hold themselves up to a better standard. This might sound like a platitude but it is not. I have been banging on about this sort of thing ever since I started blogging.
I will continue to be honest about my views on issues and if/when I find myself a victim of smears from things I have said or written about I will defend myself to the utmost. I am not going to take this lying down because if I do I will be letting this tired and discredited way of doing politics win.
I didn't get involved after all those years on the sidelines to allow that to happen.