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Wednesday 4 September 2013

Toby Young MP – Or Maybe Not

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

One hates to dish out too much stick to the loathsome Toby Young, but if he’s going to put himself up for a little ridicule, he can expect nothing less. And Tobes’ latest wheeze is to stand for elective office. No, don’t laugh, he’s serious, and used the occasion of a Q&A with Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, this afternoon to make his announcement.
Tobes is considering throwing his ego into the ring for the privilege of standing for the Tories in the constituency of Hammersmith come the next General Election, which should be in 2015. And I’m all in favour of him doing so. I’ll go further: every other political party likely to be involved in that contest will also be all in favour of his candidacy. He’ll be thoroughly popular, but not perhaps for the reason he imagines.

Because, although Hammersmith and Fulham is one of the Tories’ supposedly flagship boroughs, the party was more than 3,500 votes shy of Labour’s Andy Slaughter in 2010, despite the supposed unpopularity of Pa Broon and the poor economic climate of the time. And next time, there will be parties like UKIP eagerly waiting to take votes off the Tories.

On top of that, the Tories’ 2010 candidate was Shaun Bailey, a genuinely popular bloke who was able to appeal across party lines, having been involved in youth work and helping with drug programmes. Bailey was selected via an open primary, demonstrating his popularity within the community. If Tobes thinks he’s going to do significantly better, I’d suggest he’s got another think coming.

He might think that his work setting up the West London Free School (WLFS), and his drive to set up more such schools, is going to make him popular, but there are a lot more people in Hammersmith than those who back the WLFS. Most children in the constituency attend schools where there is pressure on resources – perhaps because money is going instead into Free Schools.

I’m sure the right-leaning part of the media would applaud Tobes’ selection. Some of them might even turn up and help canvass for him, and thereby turn off even more of the electorate, most of whom can’t afford (for instance) to blow more than £3,000 on the kind of fridge that satisfies the dictates of all those visiting clever people who talk loudly in restaurants.

Although the inadvertent humour factor would make Tobes’ candidature unmissable, it would only be because of the slow-mo car crash potential. Seriously Toby, don’t even bother. Andy Slaughter will think all his birthdays have come at once. UKIP will be looking to come through the middle. The Lib Dems will give thanks that their voters won’t be drifting to the right. And bookies will refuse bets on a Labour hold.

Stick to being an easy target at Telegraph blogs. You know where you stand there.

[UPDATE1 5 September 1200 hours: it appears that Tobes is deadly serious about standing for Parliament, as has been made clear in an item at the Spectator, where he tells that the odds of him even being selected are slim, "but those are the kind of odds I like".

And, just to take the biscuit in his usual inimitable style, he says "I've long ago learned that the best defence against people bad-mouthing you is to continue to behave decently and honourably". I'm sure there are many people out there who will applaud this magnificent example of brass neck.

Why, though, would Tobes even bother with the idea of being an MP? You'll love the response: "I'd be doing it out of a sense of patriotic duty". And while Tobes takes out his onion, many others will be reaching for the sick bag]

[UPDATE2 5 September 1755 hours: it's not only Tobes that is serious about his standing for Parliament, as an intervention on ConHome has shown. This has come from "Dirty" Harry Phibbs (he does? Brucie's just making a note of that), local councillor of no discernible subtlety, who tells grandly that "We need more social entrepreneurs as MPs: Toby Young must do his duty".

Phibbs rather grandly calls Tobes "a pioneer in one of the great success stories of the decade, the Free School movement", an assertion that he would do well not to make too grandly until Tobes' West London Free School (WLFS) actually has some comparative evidence - like GCSE results - to show how it is performing against other schools in the area.

And, by the most fortunate of coincidences, Phibbs echoes Tobes' sentiment that to put his name forward for selection would be his "patriotic duty". Anyone might think that there is some organisation behind this exercise, but, as I pointed out earlier, most parents in Hammersmith don't send their children to Free Schools and may not so easily buy what the Tories appear to be selling]


Damien Thompson said...

Looking forward to his losing speech in May 2015 already.

Gonzoland said...

Toby The Headless Thompson Gunner.
apols to the late, great Warren Zevon.