The front page of the Wiltshire Times today tells the story of Tory candidate The Reverend Neil Cocking who was, 16 years ago when living in Wimbledon, was accused of gross indecency following being caught having sex with another man on a Norfolk beach. Perhaps so what, though one may think a 42 year old should know better anyone is allowed a few indiscretions. It does not disqualify Rev. Cocking or question his ability to represent Bradford-upon-Avon.
More worrying are the comments made by the agent for the area, one Dirk Russell. Alongside comments that suggests he knew of this he remarked "We are not under any obligation to ask about previous convictions." So if a candidate has a history of embezzlement, fraud, is one certain Mr Archer, voiced racist or sexist views, has been an active supporter of the BNP (the latter happened by the way) the Conservative party would be unprofessional enough to allow them to stand unquestioned and receive the negative press coverage. Secondly that if no-one reported the issue they could be elected and be placed in a position of responsibility where they could further whatever personal or political goals they had.
This does not apply to Rev. Cocking, his is one of those 'so what' stories, but it raises huge questions about the way in which candidates are screened. When many talk of needing to build trust in political institutions such practices are really counter intuitive. What perception does this give of a party that aspires to government? Are the others any better? My dear old grandad once said that, in Rotherham, if you stick a red rosette on a donkey it'll get elected, and he remarked that the party often did put up donkeys; what else do they put up?