Sunday, January 31, 2010

Iain Dale: Churlish or Rattled?

Iain Dale, failed Tory candidate in North Norfolk last General Election, frequently uses his EDP column to attack the Liberal Democrats (no sour grapes of course!). In particular, he has often tried to score political points by drawing attention to the fact that since April Pond was selected to fight the Norwich North by-election, the Lib Dems have been without a PPC in the neighbouring and nominal target seat of Broadland.

It is no suprise then that to date, Dale has failed to acknowledge in blog or column that the Liberal Democrats have selected well-known local campaigner Dan Roper to be the party's PPC. Dan will bring vigour, freshness and radicalism to the campaign. His commitment to local communities and alertness to the needs of the wider county of Norfolk make him a tough opponent for suprisingly low profile incumbent Tory MP Keith Simpson. Iain Dale has proved that sometimes he can be a pundit above party politics. Dan Roper's selection provides the opportunity for Iain to show his support for high quality local people offering themselves for the noble calling of public service. Not to do so could be seen as being churlsh or rattled..

There is still much to play for in the coming months-the public dis-satisfaction with the Brown Government which seems to be running out of time and ideas,has not translated into an upswell of public popularity for Cameron's Conservatives. This is not 1997. A hung Parliament is a distinct possibility. The Lib Dems in general and Nick Clegg in particular, are gaining in confidence and appeal. The choice in Broadland? Another Tory MP from the past or Dan Roper, a man for the future? Norman Lamb in North Norfolk shows what a difference a Lib Dem MP can make to county and community.

It will be a privilege to campaign for and vote for Dan Roper. A genuine choice and positive campaign should engage the public and make the first battle to elect an MP for Broadland a memorable one.


Iain Dale said...

1. Well known local campaigner? Never heard of him.
2. I gather he was selected from a shortlist of one, as no one else bothered to apply.
3. He was picked by a handful of local activists. Why no Open primary to let the electorate have a say too?

As you well know, I have praised Norman Lamb in my column, as well as criticised local LibDems. That is what a column is for - to give opinions.

Simon Wilson said...

If you lived in Broadland or even in Norfolk Iain you would have heard of Dan and his campaigning, for example to successfully save Spixworth post office

Iain Dale said...

How many attended the selection meeting, and why weren't they given a choice of candidates?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, you have heard of him. If you also had the local contacts, you'd know of his campaigning record.

Are you saying that all Tory seats use open primaries ? Most are not, so to maon about the Lib Dems not using them is silly.

Simon Wilson said...

How much choice did the Conservatives have in the re-selection of Keith Simpson?

Iain Dale said...

More than 200 people applied to be the candidate when keith was selected. In the final meeting there were 3 candidates I believe. More than 200 people were there.

Reselections are obviously very different.

I repeat: why was only one candidate put forward? We don't live in North Korea, do we?

And how many people were there at the meeting?

These are not difficult questions to answer.

Iain Dale said...

Nich, you are wrong. Around 90% of Tory seats are using Open Primaries (more accurately Open Caucuses).

And no, I really haven't heard of him.

Simon Wilson said...

Strictly speaking of course Iain, Broadland is a new constituency so not a re-selection in the normal sense.

In an era of politics where candidate selection proceedures are so often the cause of division and controversy whether due to contrived "contests",all-women shortlists or the apparent imposition of A list candidates from outside the constituency by central office, it is refreshing that sometimes the right candidate, of the right calibre emerges at the right time in the right place. It may even happen in the Conservative Party.

Broadland Liberal Democrats took the time to reflect on what sort of candidate they want to lead their campaign and Dan Roper emerged as an inspired and excellent candidate.

Politics is not just about stitching up meetings, back room deals or public conflict, it is about people and empowering communities by putting them not sectarian interests first.

The past year has seen Liberal Democrats winning local by-elections across the country, county and constituency. No wonder the Tories are rattled.