I've had an anonymous comment, taking issue with the Lib Dem candidate selection in Crewe & Nantwich, and arguing against my own comments on Iain Dale's article.
(It's actually posted off-topic under my David Icke thread - I hadn't blogged about the by-elections myself until now - but I thought I'd reply by starting a new post. No point in having a discussion about the by-elections buried under a thread about lizard men taking over the world.)
Anyway, this is what Anonymous thinks:
With regard to your comment on Iain Dale. It is not standard practice to reopen selections after a by-election is called; the Tories don't do it (hence E. Timpson in Crewe).
The Libs do it, not out of any principle (this is the Libs! "Having no principles here"), but out of a cynical-and if C&N goes right, touch wood, completely unsuccessful-attempt to hoodwink the voters with a "name" or local somebody. Doesn't detract from it being completely nauseating though.
I thought you were meant to be the non-political party for local people? So what happens to the hard-working PPC who's got on first-name terms with the council officers and knows the place like the back of their hand? Tough - we can get a few more inches in the papers with a "face" who gets elected and then can't find his way round Westminster or his constituency in the next 2 years before the election.
And that's all that matters to the Libs - stuff the residents, if we can get our man in and do down the Tories, all to the good.
Sorry but it's still sick-making.
I've got to hold up my hands here, and apologise. I got it wrong when I said that re-opening selections was standard practice in all parties when a by-election is called. Apparently, it's just us. To be fair, I posted a follow-up comment on Iain Dale, acknowledging the error.
Still, that doesn't change the fact that it's standard practice in the Lib Dems, and has been for years. I think Iain's point was that re-opening the selections in C&N and Henley was a short-term and cynical political move, based on the circumstances of the time. I only wanted to point out that it was entirely normal Lib Dem procedure.
I disagree with Anonymous that there is some sort of anti-Tory conspiracy going on. I think the truth is a lot more mundane. The Lib Dems are a relatively small party who can't afford to fight every seat properly in a general election - we haven't got the money, and we haven't got 600 really top notch willing candidates to go around at any one time. (And if we do, they're generally not too keen on being paper candidates in seats where we're not campaigning properly.) The entire strategy revolves around putting the resources and the best candidates into the key marginal seats. I'm not saying that's a good thing; it's just part of the political reality.
All that changes when a by-election is called. A normally unwinnable seat like C&N or Henley suddenly becomes important because there's only one constituency to put the entire party's resources into. At the same time, we can go on a fundraising drive specificially for the by-election, and match the other parties' spending more closely. It also means that our candidate will come under far more national scrutiny than a normal Lib Dem candidate in a no-hoper of a seat in the middle of a general election. Consequently, we have to be careful to run a much more stringent selection process and hopefully get a better candidate than we normally would for such a seat.
On that basis, I think it makes sense for a party like the Lib Dems to re-open selections whenever there's a by-election. I don't think it has anything to do with hoodwinking the voters, it's just a question of trying to get the best out of limited resources.
If that sounds cynical to you, why not try supporting a change in the voting system? Surely getting rid of first-past-the-post is the answer ...