Along with a couple of friends, I went along to the Woking open primary for the Conservative Party. It's an interesting new fad to have open primaries, so that anyone can come along and vote to see who will become the Tory candidate, in this case to succeed Humphrey Malins in Woking. They held in the H.G. Wells suite, which was completely full. I was genuinely surprised at the size (and, frankly, the average age) of the audience.
There were four candidates: a barrister, a couple of lady doctors and a marketing wallah. They were brought in one at a time -- in a random order, determined by lottery -- and asked the same questions, some of which had been selected from the floor ("has multiculturalism failed?") and some that had been set by, I suppose, the selection committee. They all did reasonably well: I'd sort of assumed that one of them would have really stood out to make the voting easy, but it wasn't like that at all. They handily gave out score sheets for you to fill in as you went along, and all of the candidates scored within a couple of points by my tallying.
I was sure the marketing guy would lose -- I didn't like his speaking style, which seems stilted and slightly unreal -- and although I was inclined towards both of the doctors -- my reasoning being that unlike barristers or marketing wallahs, doctors are forced to meet "real people" on a daily basis, and therefore experience the devastation that the New Labour plague has visited on our land at first hand -- but somehow just wasn't convinced by them as MPs. So I voted for the barrister, who had actually lived in Goldsworth Park in Woking. My friends each chose one of the doctors. On being told that the count would take half an hour, we went off for a beer and then came back.
We were totally shocked when the marketing wallah won, although to give him his due he did give a victory speech that wasn't bad (it was better than his "choose me" speech), so good luck to him.
Incidentally, I didn't understand why all of the candidates felt obliged to say that they support a return to grammars schools, unless it was because the audience was so old. The solution isn't to go back to the 1950 but to go forward: the candidates should have been calling for school vouchers.
None of them put forward any radical policies at all. I wanted one of them to call for the abolition of income tax, the legalisation of drugs and a few other things, but they were all quite moderate.
[posted with ecto]