The secret diary of an MP: I am severed from the mothership and cast adrift from Parliament

Now officially stripped of his job title, like every other MP in the land, an incumbent election candidate continues his anonymous weekly column for The Independent, as he targets one particular voter and argues with his political agent

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Indy Politics

In early April 1940, there was brisk activity in the military planning bunkers deep below Whitehall, where purposeful people made important decisions. Above, at street level, the sun shone brightly and the phoney war left everyone else unaware of the frenzy below and the storm to come.

Seventy-five years later, it is a little bit like that back in my constituency. The clocks have moved forward an hour and at one minute past midnight on Monday, I ceased to be an MP. A relative calm has fallen.

Later that same afternoon, more traumatically for me, faceless engineers pulled plugs from sockets in Westminster and my constituency computers were severed from the mothership. I am now cast electronically adrift from Parliament. Yet I am still being treated as if I were the MP and am performing visits just as before.

One rival candidate has publicly stated that I might as well not campaign at all and go on holiday as I am going to win regardless. But I certainly don’t feel that way at all; though I will campaign on my record as an effective MP, I know I am not universally loved.

Mr Chawdhary, who manages a village post office, has very firm views. He has put up a Ukip poster in the window of the newsagent’s section of his shop. “There are too many immigrants coming into this country and spoiling it all for us British,” he maintains. I have remonstrated with him before, but he is resolute. “All the main parties are letting everyone in,” he says, shouting “I am not a racist!” after me as I slink out of his store to the startled looks of other shoppers.

 

I know I should leave him be. But Mr Chawdhary has become a bit of a project for me. I am determined to reform him.

While matters are quieter up here, I have been liaising with my printers. All the main political parties have been offering candidates a standard literature package, but I have decided that words, words, words are ignored, ignored, ignored. Using the advantage of having been an MP, I have loads of photos showing my work. And pictures tell a thousand words. So I have eschewed my Party HQ and teed up my own local designer. My literature will be bright and cheerful – which is more than the national campaign has been so far.

However, there is one dark spot on the local horizon. My political agent and I have fallen out over the wearing of the party rosette. He maintains that I should wear it at all times – even at the pub or the curry house. “Why?” I wail. “Because you should be seen to support your party.” Oh, come on. Four weeks and more of me strutting around looking like a prize bull from the agricultural show? I fear this argument will run and run.

On Thursday night, campaigning stopped and I sat down to watch the TV debate. The line-up looked like a glitzy game show. My leader held his own well. He was not the weakest link: goodbye. Sigh of relief. But with no major gaffes, this debate will be forgotten in four weeks’ time. Election manifestos are yet to be published and anything might happen.

I went into my main town today. In between hailstorms and howling winds, a few hardy shoppers looked up and wished me well. I wonder what the weather will be like on Election Day. Will bad weather favour my party or theirs? It used to be thought that Conservatives would benefit from bad weather: they had cars while the poor did not, but that no longer applies. I guess it’s all down to how many have postal votes and how committed a voter you are.

I look at the long-range weather forecasts for 7 May, but just like the opinion polls, they don’t offer a clue.

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