Thursday, 18 October 2012

Infernal Coalition: Despair

...Alex turned to his computer screen and called up the Seats and Candidates page of Conservative Home. He found the link to the A-List at the head of a list of constituencies and began his investigation.

Almost an hour later, he found himself in possession of far more information about the six shortlisted applicants than he could ever have expected to trace, but none the wiser as to how Susie could have found herself excluded in comparison to them all. He saved the summary that he had been typing and printed it off.

Howard Bailey. Small business owner, Bristol. Runner up, Bristol South East, 2005. In final six for one safe seat last year, and Bristol South West this year – still ongoing? Has written a number of articles about deregulation for small businesses.

Martin Darby. A-Lister. PR & marketing consultant, London. In final six for one marginal late last year and two safe seats in 2007. Appears close to a couple of Shadow Cabinet members.

Adrian Swan. Councillor and teacher at independent school in Coventry. No sign of him in any other shortlists. Known Eurosceptic contributor to ConHome discussion threads. Another ordinary people candidate? 

Alexandra Holt. A-Lister. Barrister (matrimonial law), London. In final six in three safe seats since 2006. Vociferous for reform of family courts.

Janine Kendall. Management consultant, Hertford. Might be same as Jan Kendall who fought a safe Inner London Labour seat in 2005. No sign of shortlisting this time around.

Olwen Williams. Farmer, Shropshire. Stood in hopeless South Wales mining seat in 2006 by-election. In final six for a safe seat earlier this year.

Six candidates, he thought. None of them a household name, and not a local connection to proclaim between them. Bailey and Swan could probably make it to the constituency via the motorways in a couple of hours if they put their foot down, but that’s as far as it goes.

What a farce. Do those three women really have anything that Susie doesn’t? Was this call for new blood candidates nothing more than window dressing?

By now it was almost 2.30 and Alex was in no frame of mind to revert to client work. Picking up his briefcase, he waved a goodbye to Sawdon who was on the phone, told the other partner Geoff Stokes he was leaving early, and made his way downstairs to the car park. At least he could be sure of sharing the bad news with Susie before anyone might break it to her first. His promise to respond to Bob Gill later that afternoon on his prospects of suing CCK TelSol was long forgotten.

To his surprise, Susie was already home, sitting in the study at the computer. It was obvious that she had been upset and angry for some time, and most unusually she was struggling for words as well as fighting back tears. Alex’s consoling hug could not have prepared him for what she finally said.

“What a tactless, two-faced, arrogant bastard.”


“Nicholson.” She could hold back the tears no longer as she waved her hand towards the screen and hurried out of the study. “Just read that.”

Alex did so and found himself looking at a circular email that had evidently been sent to almost two hundred addressees.

‘Dear Applicant

The selection process for the new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in East Worcestershire has now led to the drawing up of a shortlist of six applicants, to be submitted to the constituency’s executive committee in the immediate future.

Regrettably we were unable on this occasion to include you on this shortlist and will not therefore be taking your application any further.

I wish you well in your further applications.

Yours faithfully

Olivia Phillips
Organising Secretary
For and on behalf of Ashley Nicholson
Chairman, East Worcestershire Conservative Association.’ 

A wave of disbelief came over Alex as he opened his briefcase and extracted the copy email he had received from Nicholson earlier that day. He read the line ‘Reserve: Susan Harris’ again. And again. As Susie came back into the study, the tears almost gone but her anger no less obvious, he passed it over.

“I don’t understand. Why would you get a standard form brush off when I’ve just had this?”

Susie read it and shook her head in complete confusion when she reached the incongruous line that appeared to suggest that her new found ambitions had not been completely dashed.
“I can’t make it out either. I can’t work out whether it was an afterthought or something that was supposed to have been edited out...”

* * * * *
Previously posted: Hope. To follow: Disbelief, and Amazement - and Retaliation.

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