Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Infernal Coalition: Hope

Wednesday 2 December 2009

.....Hearing the phone replaced, Alex banished Gill and his dispute from his mind. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last time, when he would have had to disappoint a client for telling him what he needed to know rather than what he wanted to hear. Susie came into the kitchen and threw her arms around him.

“I’m on the approved list! They’ve even said I’m free to apply for any other Midlands seat!”

“That’s great. I’m really proud of you.” They chatted on for a few more minutes before it sunk in with Alex that their intentions need not remain secret any longer. “I suppose I’d better ring Ashley Nicholson and tell him there’s going to be a local candidate in the running.”

“And put your differences aside too?”
Susie’s question was as perceptive as ever. She had always suspected that the local party chairman, a lifelong resident of the county, had not been entirely pleased when Alex had become an officer in the association barely a year after they had moved from the Birmingham suburbs to a rural setting in the constituency. Although no other committee member had come forward to express any interest in taking on the role of Deputy Chairman Political ahead of Alex, Susie had long gained the impression that there was a needless element of factional strife between Nicholson’s closest allies and everyone else.

For his own part, Alex was aware that Nicholson had made a colossal amount of money from training and consultancy work in the fields of environmental health and hygiene, taking full advantage of the ever expanding consequences of European Union membership. Alex’s staunch belief that the UK would be better off out of the EU left him with little time or respect for those who profited from the European project at the expense of those burdened by its regulations.
“Up to a point, I guess. The day I become a Europhile will be the day hell freezes over.” Alex paused. “Of course, if you’re elected to Parliament, I’d better remember that a closed mouth gathers no foot.”

“That sounds just like Denis Thatcher.” Susie let the comment, laden with implication as she had intended, hang in the air as she headed upstairs. Having found the chairman’s number, Alex picked up the phone and made the call, and was soon through the inevitable opening round of small talk.

“OK, Ashley, that wasn’t why I rang. The reason for my call is to let you know that Susie has just been accepted onto the approved list of prospective Parliamentary candidates, and she’s put in her application to be shortlisted for East Worcestershire. “

“Has she now? That’s very interesting. I can’t think that there’s any other local candidate likely to apply.”

Nicholson did not expand. Alex noted with a brief touch of curiosity that he had expressed no obvious enthusiasm on hearing the news.
“So I think it’s only right and proper that I stand down as Deputy Chairman Political on a temporary basis after Friday’s meeting, until the selection procedure is over. Presumably there’s no problem then if we put the word around that Susie’s applying?”

“I think that you can leave that to me. You’ll have heard that CCHQ are sending a rep along to the meeting on Friday, to give us the complete low down on how the process works. One of the tasks we’ll be faced with then is forming a selection sub-committee of six. You’re welcome to come along to the meeting, but clearly you can’t properly be on the sub-committee, and it’s probably a good idea if you do stand down as DCP afterwards. Only temporarily, of course.”

“Not a problem.” There was something in Nicholson’s tone of voice that left Alex feeling patronised, but he let it ride. They soon finished their discussion.

“How did he take it?” Susie had returned, holding an Ordnance Survey map.

“Difficult to tell. Same as ever with him, of course. Still, I’d find it hard to believe that the local executive won’t give you their full support. Let’s hope he falls into line. They surely wouldn’t want a complete nobody ahead of a local. And most of the real stars from the A-List would surely have been selected for vacant seats by now.”

Susie spread the map out across the kitchen table. She was well aware of the party hierarchy’s decision to create an A-List, an elite group of preferred candidates whose entry into Parliament was considered to be particularly desirable, and how badly this had gone down with ordinary members once it had been uncovered. The recent call, in the face of the expenses scandal, for a new type of candidate to come forward had been a welcome contrast. 

“Right then, let’s start going over these towns and villages. We know the area and the local issues far better than London A-Listers who make the same pitch to every constituency they apply for....."

* * * * *

To follow: Despair, Disbelief, and Amazement - and Retaliation.

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