2017 General Election Diary Day 8: Some lights in the depths of the tunnel

I achieved something today. By not watching Prime Minister’s Questions at lunchtime, I’ve successfully avoided watching it for an entire Parliament, and I really don’t feel I’ve missed out at all. Now, can I manage to do the same for BBC Question Time if I hold out for the next few weeks?

We seem to be hitting a slight turning point in the election buildup as news turns from who’s not standing to who actually is going to be up for election in June. Having had a week to get themselves together, local branches of all parties are having selection meetings and putting candidates into place, with some former MPs rushing to get themselves back into Parliament. Esther McVey has rushed to fill George Osborne’s Tatton seat, which means that while he’s off to become editor of a newspaper despite having no experience in journalism, he’s being replaced as an MP by someone with journalistic qualifications and experience.

In further ironic replacements, after their former MP Zac Goldsmith quit the party over Heathrow expansion to stand in an ultimately futile self-inflicted by-election, Richmond Park Conservatives have tonight selected a Conservative Party member who’ll be committed to the party’s manifesto which includes Heathrow expansion. The new candidate, coincidentally also called Zac Goldsmith, and sharing a similar background to his predecessor, is clearly not the same person because that would be silly and there’s no way they’d select the man who not only forced them into an entirely pointless by-election but somehow contrived to lose it.

Oh, it turns out they have, and it’ll no doubt turn out he made a pledge not to stand if there was a snap election because all words are now completely meaningless.

Tenuous link news takes us from Richmond Park, where the Greens didn’t stand a candidate in the by-election and supported the Liberal Democrats instead, to Brighton Pavilion where local Liberal Democrat members have tonight decided that they won’t be standing a candidate so as to improve Caroline Lucas’s chances of re-election in the seat. Maybe, just maybe, this might indicate that the circular firing squad is lowering its weapons and realising that there might be a better way of doing things.

One last piece of non-selection news: David Ward is not the Lib Dem candidate for Bradford East. From what I’ve been able to piece together, it seems that a loophole in the rules made him eligible for selection and his local party took advantage of that, and a few discussions at party HQ found a way to close that loophole and kick him out again.

The floaty heads of electoral doom will not be seen this year.

In other news, Jeremy Corbyn has achieved something today in making sure that TV debates won’t happen for this election. If everyone but Theresa May was ready to turn up, they might well have gone ahead and empty-chaired her, but now he’s said he won’t attend if she doesn’t, he’s now taken away any pressure there was on her to attend as well as meaning that broadcasters won’t be rushing to arrange debates without both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. So, everyone can join in a slow handclap for the strategic geniuses who though that up.

And finally, we turn to Election Leaflet Of The Day…but there isn’t one. Sadly, the only leaflets to have gone up on the site today (despite me waiting until really late to do this post) have all been local election ones. It’s like calling a snap election when no one’s prepared for it and lots of people are focused on the local elections for the next week means there are few general election leaflets being delivered right now. If you do get one, then do make sure you upload it as right now there’s a good chance it’ll be featured here and it might be seen by dozens of people.

Originally published at www.nickbarlow.com on April 26, 2017.

Many, many things. PhD student at QMUL. Councillor. Ran the 2019 London Marathon for Brain Research UK. @nickjbarlow on Twitter.

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