This morning, Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries broadcast to the world, waiting or not, that she had been re-adopted as Conservative candidate for the next General Election. Some considered this to be a surprise, news of some note. I did not. That is because the Tory Party both in the constituency, and nationally, has little choice in the matter, albeit for different reasons.
Right now, Young Dave and his jolly good chaps need the distraction of levering the fragrant Nadine out of her comfortable berth in the home counties like they need the proverbial hole in the head. To make any kind of capital out of Labour’s apparent difficulty over candidate selection, the Tories have to appear united, even if they are, especially over the EU, anything but.
And one way of showing unity is to keep attention on their opponents, while managing the amount of dissenting noise coming from folks like Ms Dorries. So the party at Westminster has to swallow any residual pride, make conciliatory noises about being a broad church and admiring individualism, and leave the Mid Bedfordshire question well alone.
This they have clearly done, shifting the decision on to constituency chairman Budge Wells, who was no doubt watched keenly at last night’s meeting of the local executive by his predecessor Andy Rayment, who, along with his wife, has a significant interest in Ms Dorries staying where she is: as Unity at Ministry of Truth has pointed out, they own the current Dorries residence.
And that, folks, is why the Tory Party both at Westminster and in Mid Bedfordshire, had little choice but to not only allow Nadine Dorries’ name to go forward for re-adoption, but also to confirm that re-adoption. Once set on that course, given that this is a nominally safe Tory seat and that the association will therefore stand by its MP first and ask questions later, the result was inevitable.
However, and in these cases there is invariably a however, this is no guarantee of electoral success. The IPSA inquiry into Ms Dorries’ accommodation and travel expense claims has yet to report, and as I noted recently, she has moved from aggressively challenging that body’s legitimacy to making conciliatory noises ahead of their judgment being handed down.
So there could be bad news in the offing. Add to that the unpleasantness Ms Dorries directed towards at least one of her opponents in the 2010 campaign, and the possibility that this candidate – the Lib Dems’ Linda Jack – could be given a clear run against her in 2015. Think this could not turf out the fragrant Nadine? Remember, the local Conservative association in Tatton stood by Neil Hamilton in 1997.
And we all know how that contest turned out, don’t we? In a safer seat, too.