Iain Dale kindly makes the point that I would have been a strong candidate for the Norwich North seat whilst also taking a swipe, possibly, depending on your arguments some justification, at the problems the Lib Dems in Norwich North may have created in selecting April Pond as the candidate for the forthcoming parliamentary by-election.
Now I am not going to provide quotes to be used on Tory election leaflets across Broadland, so I will show a degree of restraint not always seen on this blog, but I was somewhat surprised to see that having been selected for the target seat of Broadland two years ago, followed by a decent run of council results across that constituency, that April Pond then wanted to stand in Norwich North, a seat which does not have the prospects of Broadland.
In response to me I would assume that April would want to point out that parts of Norwich North will be moving in to Broadland at the next general election and that she has already received heavy promotion in the Taverham and Drayton bits of Norwich North (the bits that move to Broadland) so it is not as if she is changing seats. I am not going to debate that view, I only state it in order to be fair to April.
Iain wrote kindly about the fact that I should have been selected by the Lib Dems. I thank him for the compliment, but the party did not seem that willing. There was, in my opinion, a lack of interest from the Liberal Democrats, as an organisation, in me standing. So many members and activists were encouraging me to do so, but the signals from above were that someone in my position would not be of value as a candidate. I am not blowing my own trumpet too much, but I am an approved candidate, I live in the constituency, I went to school in the constituency and I work in the constituency. Also in one ward in Norwich I have quite a high profile due to my job, and more importantly I was keen to do it. Having said that I pointed out to people that by virtue of my job I was not going to be able to give up the time that other candidates might (in that I would not be taking three weeks off work for the duration of the campaign), I really did not receive a lot of encouragement other than being told "you ought to apply". Phone calls I made to people made it clear that my situation was not ideal and would make it "Very difficult", so I was loathe to fill in an application in order for it to be rejected out of hand. Then, to make matters worse, I was told the interviews would be held in Cambridge or London (despite the fact that there are two Lib Dem offices in Norfolk) on a Thursday (another school day), which effectively put an end to any hopes I might have had for standing. In short, I was keen, but the systems put in place do not make it easy for certain professions to jump the hurdles the party puts in the way.
I didn't attend the selection meeting yesterday. I was attending the Diss Carnival with family and then came down rather ill, so I cannot comment on the quality of all the candidates. I certainly voted for April when she stood to become PPC in Broadland and think she has many great qualities. From Norwich North's point of view, it is probably the case that April was the best candidate they could choose from. She was a Norwich City Councillor, she was involved in many decisions which made Norwich North a better place, and she is also local and has some name recognition in Taverham and Drayton. So I don't question the choice or judgement of local members in selecting her.
I am sure the Tories in Broadland will be asking questions in their leaflets in Broadland in the next General Election. If I were in their shoes, I'd be doing the same.