Now I don't know about you but I always (naively) thought that if a candidate stands under a party banner he/she should be availed of the support of the party? Surely that should be the case or everyone who runs would be an Independent?
Maybe someone should tell local Tory, Antony Little, about that...
On 4th March I took up a challenge in The Guardian and wrote to Mr Little about Lord Ashcroft. Here's the questions I asked plus one of my own (as a football fan) which was: How do you feel as a Norwich City (and football) supporter about how an important donor to your party has behaved as the major shareholder of Watford FC bearing in mind that his business tactics elsewhere have been described by a High Court Judge in 2003 thus: "Euphemistically this practice, which I understand is not unheard of in the City, is described as "greenmail"....The proper word, to my mind, is blackmail. It is the kind of thing which brings the City into disrepute ... the purpose of the City is to raise finance to enable companies to develop businesses for their own and the country's wellbeing. Where matters are dealt with in speculation and profits are made, which are then gathered offshore, when there is no merit and no exposure to the kind of risks associated with companies, that to my mind is not legitimate." And how does this sit with your view of the Fit & Proper Persons rule?
All fair enough?
Now I didn't expect an immediate answer, but as a voter in the constituency in which Mr Little is the Tory PPC I did expect an answer. He's a busy man - teacher; councillor; family etc. The one thing he isn't is a full time politician which is what he aspires to be. Strange then that he should be so condemning of that trait in his fellow runners in this ward here... "All of my opponents are full time politicians" - sounds like a crime!
I did get an answer, a 'holding' answer is the right term, on 10th March. It told me that he was asking for answers from colleagues and CCHQ and informing me that Norwich South didn't get any Ashcroft cash.
I said that was fine, I completely understood that he was a busy guy and that I'd wait for him to get back to me with (his words) "something substantial".
For a while.
Then I got fed up of waiting on 6th April and sent a polite prompt. I think Mr Little may have forgotten me and my questions he had to ask CCHQ for answers on.
Within seconds I got a reply: "I am very disappointed to say that I have personally been unable to obtain this information for you despite asking on a number of occassions. As you may have seen from Eastern Evening News I am very serious about cleaning up politics and funding and believe upfront and forthright answers to clear questions are always best. I can therefore only apologise for this.
I can give you my personal and party views on a wide range of subjects from education to the EU but on these very specific questiosn I am afraid I did not get a response.
I hope, though, that you understand that both my integrity and that of the Norwich South Conservatives is of the highest order and that the party does have people in it determined to make the changes needed.
What??? Not even an answer about the Fit & Proper Persons Test??? Outrageous!
So what does all this say? Antony Little may well have integrity and believe in upfront and forthright answers but the big cheeses he'll be a pawn to in CCHQ certainly don't appear to be backing him up.
I actually feel quite bad for him (which is strange for me!)
This is a sad endictment of party politics. When Central Office won't play the game fairly with all candidates who knows what's going on? How will Mr Little, if elected, know whether he's entitled to answers or not?
There's a bigger and more unfortunate story here than I can get 'out there' but if anyone else fancies having a look into it be my guest!
Meanwhile I still haven't heard back from Simon Wright (LibDem) about his party's use of Onepost. Maybe I never will.