This diary is written by a Parliamentary candidate contesting a marginal seat in May.
Four weeks to go. The polls are neck and neck. ‘Trust Lynton,’ they tell me. Hmm…
One of the more interesting things at this stage is the almost relentless lobbying from groups who seem to materialise out of thin air. The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child got upset with me this week after one of their representatives put me under pressure to get ‘results back to our HQ’ as to how I feel about issues relating to the unborn child and same-sex marriage.
I politely reminded them that I was under no duress at all to provide answers to their HQ about such sensitive issues – as though I was under some sort of examination and ratification process. I’ve always struggled with how an MP is expected to know everything, have an opinion on everything and be unmoved in their convictions on such issues.
Another group hassled me about hunting and badgers. I replied that as I had never seen a badger in my constituency, or indeed a local hunt coming down the main A-road into town, I do not have a particularly strong opinion either way. This was met with a torrent of abuse about animal cruelty, at which point I pointed out that the only animal cruelty going on in my constituency at the moment was from this lady on the telephone to me..
The last two weeks have been largely dominated by David Cameron appearing to disrupt my usually non-political evening television viewing. Don’t get me wrong: I like David, and think he is very good: however, a fun way to spend an evening? Perhaps not.
Required watching for a candidate, though, I am told. I started off rather disappointed with our man being appearing unwilling to hold a debate with Ed Miliband or Nigel Farage one on one. I am sometimes mocked for being prepared to meet and debate anyone – however offensive their views – because I think it is important to put these folk in the picture, and outline as clearly as possible their lunacy (if lunacy it is). If millions were watching me on the TV whilst I was at it – so much the better. But the Prime Minister refused almost every format offered, until a largely uneventful format with Jeremy Paxman and a seven-way debate were settled on.
What is it with Jeremy? How can one man be so angry, having enjoyed such a clearly charmed life? His mock rage and dutiful personal bashings of both Cameron and poor old Miliband reflected badly on him. His relative respect to Cameron contrasted with his unhinged ranting at Ed. When he said: “most people think you are a north London posh-boy geek” (or similar), I truly thought I might have been watching a skit.
What Jeremy doesn’t see is that his job is the easiest in the world: identify failings in record or personality, and display personal outrage. Job done! Show me a Government that has kept every promise, and an individual without a personal failing, and I’ll show you a truly impartial journalist.
By contrast, the seven way debate with the main party leaders was expertly chaired, and what promised to be messier than a night out with Boris was actually seemingly rather controlled. Our Man held his cool; Ed freaked a lot of people out (including children and dogs) with his stare, and Nicola Sturgeon showed herself a classy operator. I was surprised the Greens had stuck with the Aussie, after her “£60 a house” (or whatever it was) claim on LBC. And the lady from Wales seemed earnest, if a little scripted.
Then there was Nigel. Now, I have a different line on people defecting to UKIP from the Conservatives. I think it’s great: if people genuinely think and believe in UKIP policies, I would suggest that the Party is better off without them. So if you know someone who is thinking about it in this way – encourage them, please. If they are so committed to leaving the EU that they will are willing to see HIV Victims being used as a symbol of economic austerity, please let them go.
I cannot understand why the over-blown joke that is UKIP still continues to track in the news media. The biggest joke of all is that I must get a least one request a week from someone in their local Party set-up who is apparently considering ‘defecting’. The Conservative Party has at every stage sucked the wind from their sails: genuine concerns exist about European, and a referendum is on the cards. And yet they keep going. In some ways, you have to admire their undaunted – almost neurotic – self-belief after yet another councillor or candidate comes out and “has a problem with black people”. But come on; the joke’s up. Please, at least this time round, can we see the end of the comically stupid yet worryingly dangerous UK Independence Party in May?
Not so not long now to keep up the trudging. Having spoken to a few of my fellow candidates over the last few days, morale is good, but the pressure has increased significantly, and endurance is being tested. So remember this: the vast majority of those who vote for you will be voting for the Party – however good your campaign may have been. So take it all with a pinch of salt. Do your best and, cometh the hour, “treat those two imposters just the same”. For however many may be pleased if you win, plenty of others will be pleased if you don’t – for your own sanity’s sake…