Thursday, 5 June 2008

An excellent candidate in Henley

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's just emailed me, letting me know that he thinks that our candidate in the Henley by-election, Stephen Kearney, is "excellent".

Come to think of it, Elizabeth Shenton was also described as "an excellent candidate" in Crewe and Nantwich. As was Ben Abbotts in Bromley. Oh, and Willie Rennie in Dunfermline and West Fife. I seem to recall that Parmjit Singh Gill in Leicester South, Jody Dunn in Hartlepool, Nicola Davies in Birmingham Hodge Hill and Sarah Teather in Brent East were all also excellent candidates.

In fact, the Lib Dems seem to have had a very long run of having only excellent candidates fight by-elections. We must be incredibly fortunate to have had such a good run. Not once has the party ever said: "OK, our candidate's a bit mediocre, but we want you to come and work for him/her anyway."

But for me this just raises the question of what an excellent candidate actually is. I have my own ideas about this, but I'd be interested to see what other people have to say, so please comment and let me know what you think makes an excellent election candidate.


Anonymous said...

I think that all candidates are by definition 'excellent' - calling them otherwise is shooting yourself in the foot. I think that most constituents realise that, it is just the way politics is. There was a similar debate about the 'winning here' policy - should they ever not use it, even if it is extremely unlikely that the LDs were winning there?

Stephen B said...

I see that my party is going with the depressing 'not a local candidate angle' against the lib dem candidate - that's boorish, cynical and pointless stuff whichever party uses it.

Actually, my bugbear is the hordes of professional party candidates that seem to make up a lot of the aspirant political class. We all know them - former pressure group/trade union/think tank/researchers and their ilk. I don't care of a candidate comes from the other end of the country but it would be nice to know they had some existence outside of the Westminster/Holyrood/Cardiff bubbles.

So what makes an excellent candidate? Perhaps one way of answering is by identifying which MPs you would consider excellent - and I don't just mean that judged against their ability to attain high office.

Anonymous said...

Other than Elizabeth Shenton (whose result was pretty good in the circumstances) all those other candidates you list clocked up pretty impressive results in their respective contests.

So maybe the description isn't too far off the mark.

And Stephen Kearney is fab!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Nigel Bakhai an excellent candidate in Ealing Southall and Greg Stone an excellent candidate in Sedgefield, then?

Anonymous said...

Of course a by-election candidate must have certain qualities like high stress tolerance, which aren't that necessary for candidates in the General Election, because a by-election candidate gets in national spotlight in a way normal candidates don't.

Anonymous said...

The only thing which makes for an 'excellent' candidate in my view is that he/she has some core beliefs and principles and some fire in their belly. I always used to ask prospective candidates, 'Is there anything you believe in passionately enough to break the law for?'
You'd be amazed how many candidates just replied with a 'Errrr!' or came out with some woffle about how one should never ever break the law!

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