Prospective Parliamentary Candidates: the dim and the obnoxious

I have met quite a few first time prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) recently – from all parties. And am quickly under the impression you either need to be dim or obnoxious to qualify…or both. I am considering giving up being a vegetarian, because on speaking to PPCs it’s quickly clear they are from the vegetable family.

There are some exceptions – Rahoul Bhansali is a good PPC. But otherwise I get the impression ego and self-love seem to block their ear passages. And to think the Cabinet may be selected from this lot one day. Actually, it won’t. And anyway, say what you will about the Civil Service, but I rather they ran the country than the vacant wannabe dictators standing for election.

Take scene one. I was at a large dinner and seated next to a PPC. I innocently asked which constituency she’d been ‘given’, meaning which one had the party selected her for. On she goes for what seemed longer than Avatar about the electoral process not being one where constituencies are ‘given’. As I glazed over looking for a hammer to bang my toes for light relief, or with which to bang her head in the interests of democracy, I recommended she ‘knock on as many doors as possible in the campaign’ which she took as a complement.

That one fell in the dim and obnoxious category, because although as she pointed out she was a senior person at a firm who deals with some big companies and a party hack since she was out of nappies and so automatically entitled to win, she also was under the belief she would win because of her ‘national profile’. I’ve got news for you. Local MPs profiles rarely get them elected. Your constituents don’t know who you are and don’t care. That’s why you joined a party and didn’t run as an independent sweety. Hmmm…seems like I know more than her about elections after all.

Then there was the occasion at Buckingham Palace. Another virgin PPC. As we stand in line to be introduced to the Queen, a time perhaps when decoram and dignity are called for, I feel sharp jabbing elbows from behind. No, not the ghost of Princess Diana, not even Prince Phillip, but another wannabe MP. Pushing through. Fine. Understandable. It is the Queen. No longer has the Queen arrived than what does the PPC engage her Majesty in? Conversation about how much our would-be expense fiddler’s daughter loved the Queen’s outfit. As the Queen could not get a word in edgeways – her opinion mattering less to the PPC than the PPCs own views, it was difficult to tell if the look of disgust from the monarch was because she too could not find a handy hammer.

So for all the entrants to ‘Make me an MP’ here are some top tips:

  1. Listen. We the electorate want to be heard not talked at. Read that again dimwit. (Sorry for calling you dimwit, but I’m playing the odds).
  2. You’re not clever, you’re not better. We secretly think if not an MP you’d still be living off the state on the dole.
  3. Just because you’ve been grovelling to the party and your beloved leader for years does not mean you are entitled to a seat. And if you get voted in, it’s not your charm and delightful wit that did it. Trust me. It certainly ain’t that….ummm and also it’s not your looks either that got you elected…however many affairs your planning as a legislator.
  4. And that pose you’ve perfected, with the tilt of your head. You may think you’re looking down on us with disdain, we just think you’ve got long nasal hair.
  5. Don’t be pushy – you never know, a charming columnist with a 180 IQ might be the person you push and next time he may name names.

The columnist hails from Karamsad and is a former Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He read Philosophy, Politics, Economics at St Anne’s College, Oxford when he also interned in the US Congress during the Clinton administration, read Law at King’s College, London, qualifying as a barrister. He is a former Bloomberg TV presenter and Financial Times columnist with 250+ columns published in the FT and author of 13 books on business and the markets. He is the founder Praefinium – a global Asset Management company.

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