Party election time again. Bah, humbug. Reminds me far too much of student union elections 20 years ago.
As far as I’m concerned, casting a vote for someone in an internal election requires the willingness to positively endorse that candidate.
This is in contrast to a general election, where it can at times be necessary to hold your nose and vote for a complete wombat because they happen to be our complete wombat.
In an internal election, where all the candidates pass the basic test of having shared goals and broadly similar political philosophy, and where frankly it rarely makes a blind bit of difference who wins, noses can remain unpegged and ‘sod the lot of you’ becomes an option.
I always go into these elections hoping for someone to believe in and support. During the last leadership election I did a lot of soul-searching and rhetorical questioning, before eventually deciding I couldn’t endorse either candidate and choosing not to vote. I have a vague memory I might have, in fact, literally returned my ballot paper with ‘sod the lot of them’ scrawled across it, but that could be my increasingly addled brain playing tricks.
Since then, Nick Clegg has exceeded my expectations of him. Admittedly, my expectations were so low that he could have done that by walking on his hands across Westminster Bridge, naked, with a bunch of daffodils stuck up his chuff. But, even so, nice one Nick.
So I did at least make an attempt to choose a candidate.
Charlotte Gore’s well-argued semi-endorsement notwithstanding, Chandila Fernando’s candidacy cannot be taken seriously. He’s like the business studies student who no-one’s heard of that runs for the union executive on a platform of ‘you’re doing it all wrong’, and then disappears without trace when he loses. It’s true that Fernando asks a lot of questions that need asking – but he fails to convince on the other side of the equation, that he has the potential to provide and implement answers.
With great reluctance, I’ve also had to strike Lembit from the list of possibles. I’ve been supporting the man and voting for him since he ran for president of the National Union of Students, and I’ve always been a fan of the way he can mix levity and gravity so effectively (no asteroid / paragliding jokes please, there’s a serious point there). But at the moment I think he’s got the balance wrong, and I can’t vote for him until he sorts it out. Contrary to what detractors suggest, he’s not a knob – but he’s acting like one. When he stops, I’ll be back in the fan club.
So that leaves Ros Scott. As I recall, every student election needed a wide-eyed ‘gosh I’m an ordinary member standing up for the ordinary members and I promise I’ll always listen’ candidate. I was one myself, once, back in 1988. Earnest, well-intentioned, not part of the ruling clique – what’s not to like? I’m really not sure sure why I’m recoiling against her. Possibly I just dislike being told what to do by a lot of smug, self-satisfied bloggers (honourable exception: her husband, who appears to have been transplanted wholesale from Sir Thomas Malory). Possibly I dislike the feeling that the great and the good of the party have rallied around her as a ‘stop Lembit’ candidate.
In the end it came down to two factors. In favour of supporting her, I will generally vote for a credible female candidate in any election where I’m otherwise undecided. Against her, she has the support of Duncan Borrowman.
I thought long, and I thought hard.
And in the end I put my ballot paper in the shredder.