Alright, I had a bit of a go at the Parliamentary Candidates Association (PCA). I felt justified at the time, and whilst their Chair had a bit of a go back, I still need to be convinced that they're as effective as they might be.
However, word has got out that I'm 'anti-candidate', whatever that might mean. If it means that I expect an organisation that has status in the Party to demonstrate competence and obey the rules, well yes, I plead guilty as charged. Indeed, whilst Martin Turner and I exchanged a series of terse e-mails on my return from a well-deserved holiday, we had found some areas of mutual agreement (by the way, Martin, got that password for me yet?).
At the same time, word reaches me that I have caused a stir in English Candidates Committee circles. Ah yes, I had a bit of a dart at them too, didn't I? Anyone would think that I didn't care...
So let's get something straight, before the anonymous peanut gallery get it into their heads that impugning my reputation is a good idea. Candidates are a vital part of what we do. We need more potential Parliamentary candidates, from all walks of life, from all sections of our community, better trained, better resourced and better supported. I've argued for that, encouraged debate on how we might achieve it, and gone out of my way to open up our processes and engage a wider audience.
I've given up my weekends over nearly fourteen years as a candidate assessor (unpaid, and with no personal reward), and expending time, care and a large chunk of my personal finances as a Returning Officer over twenty years (I'm not very good at claiming my expenses...). At least a candidate gets to appear on a ballot paper and be the focus of a campaign.
On top of that, I've served on both the Regional and State Candidates Committees, answered questions from potential candidates, made presentations on the approval system, signed sponsorship forms for people who impress me, and encouraged others to give approval more thought. I've written and proposed motions to open up the process to underrepresented groups, and opposed discrimination wherever I've encountered it.
You know, the worst thing about politics is the behind the scenes whispering. So I have a request to those who are suggesting that I'm anti-candidate - if you've got a problem with what I've got to say, have a word with me. Make the case for an alternative view by all means, and do it publicly. The alternative is that you earn my pity, because you simply aren't worth my respect.
And if you don't understand that I'm angry because I care, because it's my gut reaction to want a system that works for everyone, that you really don't know me. And that's a crying shame...