Norwich North by election - The Lib Dem selection dilemma

Iain Dale has something of an exclusive on the selection of the Lib Dem candidate in Norwich North, and I guess it is my job to make some kind of defence.

In truth, the Lib Dems know that the best chance they have is to select a well know recognisable name who comes with instant recognition or legitimacy that can bridge the gap that automatically comes from starting in third place. My guess is that Martin Bell or a local paper editor would have given the Lib Dem campaign a real boost. It has worked for the Liberals in the past (remember Clement Freud in the Isle of Ely in 1973 ? ), and there was no reason to suggest this couldn't happen again.

To be fair, as I understand it, local members would still have had to select a candidate from a shortlist, even if a celebrity name came forward, and April Pond was one of two candidates who made it to the selection meeting.

Can I shed any more light on this ? Not really. As I see it Nick Clegg was doing the right thing to maximise the Lib Dem chances of success. Would the Tories have done the same ? Well I seem to recall they selected the owner of a local radio station in Ealing a few months back for a by election there, and the similarities and parallels seem clear.


Anonymous said...

What I cannot work out from either your blog or Iain Dale's Diary is this; did Clegg expect either Frantzen or Bell to stand as LibDems? I'd be surprised if either would do that - and thus was he touting them as independents? If so, what does that say about the quality of prospective LibDem candidates or Clegg's view on the chances of a LibDem gain?
Isn't this the real story rather than trying to get a celebrity candidate?
Am I right - this is about Clegg backing an Independent over an official LibDem candidate?

Ed said...

Nich I so profoundly disagree with you that the party's best chance is to select some personality who has no connection with the party just because they are famous.

Celebrity candidates are a disaster. They have not proved themselves to be committed to the party or its beliefs. Their egos lead them to thinking that what is most important is that the world hears what they want to say. They do not value the work and commitment of the activists who try to get them elected. And when they lose (badly, as they usually do because the public are smarter than some politicians think they are) they think the party owes them something - if they dont get what they want they head for the newspapers or a book publisher to dish the dirt.

Politics should not be done for the benefit of party but it is the same as Im a Celebrity either. We (and other parties) should get over this growing obsession with celebrity candidates.

Ed Maxfield

Anthony said...

Anon - if this story is true, they were asked to consider putting their names forward as possible Lib Dem candidates. The local party would still have had to chose from a shortlist. Bell and Frantzen chose not to, and the local party chose from the selected candidates.

I seem to remember the Tories had problems with the London Mayoral candidates - they asked Greg Dyke, Brian Paddick, Nick Ferrari and ultimately David Cameron asked Boris because no one else they wanted would do it.

Anonymous said...

Iain Dale exclusive??? It was yours - I gave it to you a few days ago....

"probably the case that April Pond was the best candidate"?? That's not Nick Clegg's point of view as he asked the editor of the EDP to be the libdem candidate!

Norfolk Blogger said...

Anonymous - If you had emailed me I could have followed this up. As it was I wasn't going to report a rumour from an anonymos source.