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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday October 12 2009

Iain Dale describes some of the preliminary processes of him trying to become MP for Bracknell - if he succeeds, what’s the betting he is known as “Lady Bracknell” from then on? - blogging here about how he earlier blogged about people coming to support him at a preliminary process or event or something, and about how some commenters had complained:

UPDATE: When I posted this originally a few days ago one or two commenters thought it was unfair of me to do so, on the basis that the other candidates haven’t got blogs.

Eh?!?  That’s like saying that Benjamin Disraeli had an “unfair advantage” on account of regularly giving well-attended speeches, or that Ricky Ponting has an unfair advantage as a cricketer on account of being such a good batsman.  If people trying to do politics don’t have blogs, or do but only crap ones, or for that matter don’t do Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and suffer politically as a result, then that’s their lookout.  On the other hand, if the Bracknelian Conservative selectors feel that Dale is pissing all over them with his hoity-toity non-Bracknelian blog, they can pick someone else.

It’s called politics.

If Dale does become an MP, it will be interesting to see what happens to his blog.  Will he become a standard issue grovelling backbencher and in due course (perhaps) a ditto frontbencher, or will he remain his own man and his own blogger?  Personally, I’d like to see more people become MPs with no intention of climbing any higher up the greasy pole, just being good backbenchers, holding the frontbenchers to account, by asking actual question type questions and investigating stuff that seems wrong.  Now Parliament just seems to be a huge queue to get the real jobs, and even the real jobs to be just another smaller queue to become Prime Minister, despite the fact that at least half the Prime Ministers fail miserably.

There was a time when MPs could get elected on their own merits.  Now, it’s almost entirely down to party label.  So, they toe the line.

Why the change?  Mass media I’d guess.

I think democracy also to bear some of the responsibility.  In the 19th century parliament took over the legislature.  So, now we elect governments not representatives.

You’ve also probably got to factor in the bans on bribery and open voting.

I think Dale will have turned into a robot within 6 nanoseconds.

Posted by Patrick Crozier on 12 October 2009

Patrick, I aim to prove you wrong.

Posted by Iain Dale on 12 October 2009

I am afraid Lady Bracknell will stick to him like glue. Certainly popped into my head about two seconds after the shortlist was announced. Steve Nallon could “do” him wonderfully.

Not sure about the “robot” comment. Being a doctrinaire Tory is not what Iain Dale is about. Having read his blog for the last four or five years, it may be that he tones it down a bit, but, I cannot see him becoming someone wholly other. Yes he may become a PPS or even a Culture Minister (having confessed to never having read Shakespeare or Dickens) but he is more your David Davies type than your Chris Grayling type, don’t you think?

Posted by Wrinkled Weasel on 13 October 2009

I quite agree that Dale is his own man and his own blogger, now.  That’s why I continue to read him, and this despite having a quite seriously different view of the world to him.

But you do see these apparently very good people, once they have MP after their names, mutate into the worst sort of hack.  Maybe not in nanoseconds like Patrick says, but horribly quickly nevertheless.

It could be that they suddenly get ambitious for high office.  It could just be their level of incompetence cutting in.  But, it happens.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 13 October 2009

Where the unfair advantage could kick in is when we consider election expenses.

The UK media have got very sloppy about calling people “candidates” for elections that haven’t yet been called. The prospective candidates themselves have been tough about stopping this.

The reason it matters is that from the moment a person is a declared candidate, ALL political activity (leaflets, web sites, meetings etc) have to be recorded and declared in the election expenses return.

As the total amount a candidate is actually allowed to spend is £7,150 plus 5 pence per elector in a town or 7 pence per elector outside. In my parliamentary constituency, this amounts to £10,878.65.

Out of this, charges have to be made for hiring campaign offices, paying the election agent, all printing costs, domain names and hosting etc.

I suspect the system is widely flouted (one old classic is being overcharged by a friendly printer in off election years, but which then offers an amazing discount at election time).

Where Iain Dale needs to be careful is if his personal blog can be considered to be part of his election campaign. If it is, then he could have to include the cost of running it, at least in part. If I were an opponent, I’d be reaching for my lawyers right now…

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 13 October 2009

Mutation. A Good word. It is difficult to believe that the likes of Hazel Blears had mutated from anything other than an “I speak your weight” machine.

Others, like Carolind Flint, a piece of work if ever there was one, suddenly found she had a mind of her own after leaving the government.

I often imagine MPs at home having breakfast. “Would you like some more toast, dear?” “The important thing is, that, should toast be available, I certainly will not stand in the way of you having some and sharing it with me.”

There is no doubt that the blog will suffer if Dale becomes an MP. But I rather think he is the type to stay silent, rather than spout things he does not believe.

We shall see, and it will be interesting.

Posted by wrinkled weasel on 13 October 2009
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