As a long-time music anorak, yesterday the familiar words of Mick Jagger were playing in my head as I left the Coachman Hotel after the Co-op nomination meeting, as they often do at such times.
The meeting had just voted, out of a field of two, to nominate the excellent Dan Whittle, which means, under Co-op Parliamentary Panel rules, I as the other candidate must withdraw from the race to become Darlington’s next Labour PPC. A shame, as the campaign had been going well, I’d got some solid support and was looking forward to making a showing in the three branch nomination meetings to come. But this could only have happened in the event of winning the Co-op nomination.
Firstly I’d like to thank everyone who has been kind enough to support my campaign. I’ve really enjoyed the last month or so - it’s reminded me of why I want to be in politics. I’ve really got back into the issues and learnt a whole lot about what really matters out on the streets of Britain. Being fairly selective in the seats that I go for nowadays, it seems unlikely that I’ll fight another one before the election (unless Hugh Bayley decides to stand down in York, that is). But you never know.
I also want to mention, by the way, that the selection process has been handled in a highly professional way by Steve Harker and the other candidates have been of high quality, courteous and chivalrous.
I would only question one thing (and by the way, to me personally it wouldn’t have made any difference), and it’s this: one has to question the Party Rule Book, when its selection process looks likely lead to a shortlist of only four from an original field of 11 serious candidates (i.e. those who turned up to the candidates’ event). There are easy-to-see reasons for this and, if by chance anyone’s reading this from Head Office, I’d be delighted to give you - hopefully in a spirit of complete objectivity - a list of some small changes which would certainly improve the somewhat flawed current process. I haven’t met one candidate who thinks it’s a good system, and that can’t be right.
Anyway, thanks again to those in Darlington and elsewhere who have supported this blog. The Centre Left will be continuing to blog with some political thoughts and rants, although, inevitably, not so often about Darlington. Keep in touch.