James Cleverly (blog) was the Conservative candidate for Lewisham
and is now on the A-list.
He works in magazine publishing and has been a officer in the TA for 15
If you had to pick up a dangerous snake your instincts would tell you to grab it by the tail, where there are no teeth and no poison. If you did this, the snake would simply twist around, double back on itself and bite you.
This is counter-intuitive, grabbing the snake by the tail should be safer, surely. It isn’t.
Sometimes taking the hardest course of action is actually the safest move. Clearly this cannot be used as a blanket rule, a steam iron has a hot-plate and a handle, I probably don’t need to go on.
The skill is recognising when you are dealing with a snake situation and when you are dealing with an iron, so to speak. If you are making a courageous move always ask yourself "am I grabbing the wrong end of the snake?"
I suspect that with regard to candidate selection David Cameron and Francis Maude could be holding the arse end of a big, dangerous snake.
Secondly the party needs to look hard at what it asks of its candidates. During 2004/2005 I was heavily involved in fighting for Lewisham East and helping in Bexleyheath and Crayford, I hardly saw my family at all. For me it was the hardest part of being a candidate. I am not convinced women, especially mothers, are as willing as men to put their families into second place to fight an election. The association needs to ask itself whether the candidate needs to be at every internal party function or whether they should focus on spending the time "client facing", on the doorstep and at hustings.
Finally the cost of being a candidate has to be addressed. I don’t think
that I need to go into a lot of detail because it is a subject that has been
well dissected on ConservativeHome. Women still tend to earn less than men, sad
but true, so the financial barriers to being a candidate hit women harder than
David Cameron is being bold, we asked him to and he has to be applauded for grasping the snake, I just think that he needs to ask himself: "Have I grasped the wrong end of the snake?".