Week 46: Prat – Kelly Tolhurst

by Jackie_South on November 16, 2014

Con_PratThis week, our award for biggest prat of the last seven days goes to Kelly Tolhurst, the Conservative candidate in Thursday’s Rochester and Strood by-election.

In a sign of the increasing desperation of the Conservative Party in the Rochester and Strood by-election, their candidate Kelly Tolhurst issued a leaflet this week comparing her local credentials with UKIP candidate, and sitting MP, Mark Reckless. When it comes to crass prattishness in election literature it hasn’t been equaled since, well, Phil Woolas.

Straight Choice in Rochester and Strood leaflet

First – the title: “The Straight Choice”, a leaflet slogan made infamous by the then Liberal Party in the dirtiest by-election of modern times – the 1983 Bermondsey by-election (ironically, it panned out that their candidate wasn’t). Given that Labour held the seat until 2010, this does seem a little inaccurate too (OK, Labour won’t win but then neither will the Tories).

The main problem is that all of this might work if Mark Reckless had not been the local MP for the last four and a half years. Trying to say that he isn’t local is a bit stupid now, particularly as the people that chose such an outsider in the first place was the, er, Conservative Party.

And of course the same charge could be leveled against many current Tory MPs. The sitting MP for Witney, one David Cameron, grew up in another county, only moved into the constituency to become its MP, went to Eton and Oxford, and worked in PR and was a political researcher in Westminster. George Osborne? Grew up in London, went to private schools in London and university at Oxford, was a political researcher in Westminster and only moved to Tatton to become its MP. Theresa May? Grew up in a different county to her constituency, moved there to become MP, career before as a banker, went to an Oxfordshire private school and Oxford university.

The idea that voting Conservative is a blow against career politicians without local connections is openly risible. To put it on your leaflets is an act of desperate prattishness.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Cooney November 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm

The ‘local candidate’ line is actually a Lib Dem trope – or certainly was when I was campaigning for them in the mid- to late 2000s (I was young and naïve, that’s my excuse!) – especially in situations where it was essentially the Lib Dem candidate vs Labour/Tories. When the Conservatives are using their despised coalition partner’s lines you know they’ve got problems…


Mike Killingworth November 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

Lots of seats – especially in large cities – don’t really want “local” candidates. Their electorates are a moving target, and their party activists usually so full of feuding and back-biting that only a candidate from far away (or at least the other side of town) stands any hope of keeping the show on the road, let alone winning the seat.


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