I have just watched one of the more bizarre episodes of this General Election campaign, as the (for now, but surely not for much longer) Labour candidate in North West Norfolk, Manish Sood, has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt his unfitness for public office.
When I read the story this morning courtesy of Political Betting, I assumed that this was a case of a candidate caught making an indiscreet comment by a political opponent, perhaps out of frustration. That is, until he appeared on Sky News, where he launched into a rant about the inadequacies of a large swathe of his Party's policies and the rudeness of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Members of Parliament and the members of North West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party.
To be honest, his outburst made you wonder how on Earth he had been approved, let alone selected and, even more pertinent, how he had managed to make it to the Tuesday before polling day without this happening. You might, indeed, find yourself wondering if he had forgotten whose side he was supposed to be on.
it appears that Labour Party activists in North West Norfolk had had doubts too, and had made moves to seek his deselection. Unfortunately for them, but more importantly, the entire Labour Party, the National Executive Committee refused to consider the issue. One wonders what their grounds were, and I suspect that any internal investigation will look closely at that aspect of the 'Sood Affair'.
As anyone who has held any position in the candidate approval and selection apparatus of a political party will tell you, it is impossible to weed out all 'rogue candidates'. The process is highly dependent on volunteers, on one-off assessment processes and on good communication between the constituency party and the centre. It leaves all political parties vulnerable to those thankfully rare candidates who deliberately (and sometimes maliciously) withhold information that might impact on their approval, or who lie about their record or achievements when campaigning for selection. The safeguards only tend to kick in after the event, when the damage is done...