so, David Cameron’s decision to reopen the Conservative candidate’s list now means that selections are on hold until October. A noble gesture, but it could be costly.
I’ll be upfront here - I’m on the candidates list, having been through a Parliamentary Assessment Board (all £250 of it) and I was lucky enough to secure an ‘unrestricted’ listing. The essential idea of the PAB is that everyone who gets through it should have the skills, character and whatever else you need to be a good constituency MP.
I whole heartedly agree with the sentiment behind re-opening the list, but I have two concerns. One - we are potentially weeks away from a general election, and putting selections on hold for a few months carries a huge risk that a snap election is called when a number of safe tory and marginal seats don’t have candidates. (On reflection I’m not sure how this squares with the call for an immediate election either.) The local campaigns are essentially decapitated while the other parties are on the ground building a presence.
Secondly, the value of people from non-political backgrounds is very good, and a valiant aim. The problem is, when it comes to canvassing (or as it has felt over the past few weeks, being told you are corrupt and only interested in moat cleanliness) is an essential part of an MPs life. Being able to stand on someone’s doorstep and disagree with them is not an easy thing. If, as is entirely possible in some of the tory-held seats, some of the new candidates end up as MPs, I think the difference between wanting to improve the country and actually work in politics could lead to constituents being worse served - only further fueling the fire of disenchantment in politics.
Lets absolutely renew our efforts to broaden the people who are interested in politics. But this needs to be from the grass roots up - councils are crying out for a wider range of councillors and skills - but we risk undermining our democratic process and not just the Conservative party if we sell short that ambition.