Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.
...well, it won't be Nigel Barton. Did you see that classic play, shown again recently? It was very good on a number of fronts, and a good reminder to all of us of just how this business can operate.
With a general Election in prospect, this is a wise time to look at our own voting practices, and to evaluate not only how well we have understood the political issues, but also how well we know the candidates who will be standing, now that they are known.
Many people vote for the party of their choice regardless, and there is something to be said for taking that perhaps slightly simplistic stance. A minority vote purely or mainly on the basis of their judgement of the candidates personally with little or no regard for their party, if any. Of course, this is the only way to adjudge an independent candidate with no previous or recent party affiliation.
Unsurprisingly, I too have been evaluating the candidates, in readiness for the expected May election, though the same would apply if the election were to be delayed until later in the year or even next year, which is possible. I have tried to look at the individuals as much as their political parties.
One very severe test I apply is whether I would feel confident that, if I were to take a real issue (and I think of a few such issues for this exercise) to each of them as my local MP, I'd get it handled properly, with commitment, and with a reasonable chance of a good outcome. This can be quite a test, though of course one must keep the imagined scenario realistic in order to get a usable result. I have the benefit of a lot of inside information that the general public cannot be expected to know; but we can all apply some kind of evaulation along much the same lines even without that extra knowledge.
I shall say little about the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates beyond looking at the sitting (Labour) MP's apparently single talent for getting into the local newspapers as frequently as possible. Beyond that, what has he really done? I mean really done, not merely appears to have done. This is something you need to decide. The LibDem candidate was one of those who stood here in the 2003 local elections (though living in Luton!) and has been part of the rather transparent negative campaign against my ward colleagues and me. Very few are fooled by any of that, of course, but what sort of MP would such a person make? Again, you will have to make your own decision...
It seems appropriate that I do look in more detail at the Conservative candidate. Fortunately we have a very strong potential MP in Anne Jobson. I am immensely impressed by Anne, which is something I didn't feel anywhere near as strongly with our candidate in 2001, good though he was. I have now been out on the doorstep with Anne on numerous occasions, and not only in our ward. Watching her on the doorstep in any location, and the public's response to her, tells the whole story: apart from the (very) few who slam the door on any of us, they have confidence in her and a good rapport is immediately established. Anne is a barrister with a very sharp mind and a strong will to do good things, and that for my money gives the Conservatives a very convincing candidate indeed for Chatham and Aylesford.
I am so pleased that Anne is our candidate: it would certainly have been a tricky situation for me if the only good candidate had belonged to another party(!)
Obviously my position come the next General Election is clear, and for good reason, but yours might not be so easy. I hope that my methodology at least might be of use in determining the way you will vote at that time; but whatever you decide, I hope you will cast your vote one way or another. A good turnout is the ordinary resident's best protection against the wilder excesses of governments, for reasons that are too complicated to explain here. Just go for it!