In this week’s Spectator, columnist Toby Young toys with the idea of standing as a Conservative candidate in in Hammersmith. He examines the factors stacked against any chance of success, and the reasons he has for standing:
Suppose I won. Then what? I’d be faced with the pride-swallowing siege that is the life of a newly elected MP. Forget about affairs of state. The only decision I’d have to make would be who to suck up to more, George Osborne or John Bercow? Neither prospect fills me with joy. Being a backbench MP is drudge work for the most part and I’d have to take a salary cut to do it. Once upon a time, MPs could expect a little respect for devoting themselves to public service, but not any more. Nowadays, you’re regarded as lying, cheating bastard who’s either on the fiddle or having it off with his secretary.
And yet I’m still tempted. True, my chances of getting selected and winning the seat would be slim, but those are the kinds of odds I like. I’m one of those people who doesn’t really feel alive unless his back is against the wall. I could go for a safe seat instead, but where would be the fun in that? If the Conservatives are returned in 2015 with an overall majority, and I beat Andrew Slaughter in the process, I would feel as if I’d contributed to that victory. The satisfaction of having helped keep Labour out would be a source of comfort during the five years in the salt mines that followed.
I won’t pretend the brickbats thrown at me during the campaign wouldn’t hurt, but I’d be a sorry excuse for a man if I let that put me off. I’ve long ago learnt that the best defence against people bad-mouthing you is to continue to behave decently and honourably. You must judge yourself by your actions, even if others won’t. To paraphrase Kipling, don’t deal in lies even if you’re lied about, and don’t give way to hating even if you’re hated.
Finally, and most importantly, I love this dirty rotten country. So what if people have a low opinion of politicians? I don’t want to be an MP because of any special status it might bring. Like the majority of people who embark on this treadmill, I’d be doing it out of a sense of patriotic duty and the belief that my lot would be better for the country than the other lot.
Should Toby embark on the political treadmill? You can read why he thinks Andy Slaughter is such a formidable opponent – and why he worries he can’t compete here. Click here to subscribe to the Spectator.Tags: Conservatives, UK politics