As we get closer to the General Election people's views are firming up. Nationally the opinion polls are closing, and I detect locally people who are critical of some parts of Labour's record, recognising that overall and on the big matters - health, education and the economy it is the best choice.
Many people though vote on other issues, sometimes single issues. Some of these have been contacting local prospective candidates to find out their views. As I have recorded previously South Thanet Conservative Candidate refuses to respond to difficult political questions.
Local people have advised me recently that one issue she finds difficult to address is animal rights. Like David Cameron she comes from a family background which strongly supports fox hunting. Local people writing to her on this issue have had varying responses. One had no response. One advised me that she said she would ask North Thanet Conservative MP Roger Gale. An odd response as Laura Sandys should be able to formulate a view on fox hunting without needing to "phone a friend". Credit to Roger Gale who has taken a clear and prominent line on animal rights over many years.
Like many prospective Conservative candidates Laura is finding the process of the public scrutinising her performance difficult to handle. The League Against Cruel Sports report that
Up and down the country, our supporters have contacted the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) of all parties to seek their view on repeal of the Hunting Act. The responses are forwarded to us, and the current figures show that 69.8% of Conservative PPCs support repeal, as do 5.7% of Liberal Democrat PPCs and less than 1% of Labour PPCs.
But what’s most telling is the language used in the PPC responses. Most argue their point eloquently and effectively, but we’ve noticed a trend amongst some Conservatives to all use exactly the same wording. For instance, we now have twenty Conservative candidates all using the following line:
“I was also struck by the recent comments of Jim Barrington, the former Executive Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, who said…”
The quote itself isn’t important, and anyway, we’ve all heard Mr Barrington’s arguments before. The key point is the very personal comment that “I was struck by…”. Now, we’re not politically naive enough to think that standard responses don’t exist, but we think it’s pretty shoddy that such a personal statement, loaded with feeling, should be used, word for word, by at least twenty candidates.
Now Laura Sandys could clear this matter up easily by acknowledging her error, it should be "A Conservative Central Office researcher was struck by, not I"
Like abortion and the death penalty, fox hunting is an issue of conscience with different views by individuals in every party. So Laura Sandys should as somebody who wants to be a MP have her own views. She should be able to think for herself and formulate her own views.
Every other candidate standing in Thanet is able to do this. Why as the League Against Cruel Sports puts it, is Laura Sandys acting so shoddily?