MY WEEK

'Is the Home Secretary coming to speak for you?' I asked Jerry Hayes. 'He would be welcome.' (Endorsement by Mr Howard is believed to be worth 500 votes to Labour)

Share
Related Topics
Prospective parliamentary candidates cannot wait for elections. Citizens disenchanted with government want elections. The Referendum Party, until they learnt of the shallowness of their support, demanded an election without delay, while the odd sleaze-free MP with an impregnable majority does not mind one way or the other.

From other right honourable and honourable ladies and gentlemen, demand for a month on the hustings is muted: no one who has a decent job is overly keen to put it on the line.

Between dissolution of Parliament on 8 April and 2 May, when the losers receive a letter from British Airports Authority requesting return of the free car park pass, they think back with pride and look forward with anxiety. Take Jerry Hayes:

He will start tomorrow going around his constituency banging on doors, shaking the flesh.

His constituents at Harlow are overspill from London's East End; like all MPs, he thinks he knows his people pretty well. "They call me Jel."

Jel?

"You know, as in Tel for Terry; Jel for Jerry.

The late Reggie Maudling once told me he thought it a mistake to go too often to your constituency lest they take you for granted. Hayes would disagree; he is a "constituency MP". He won the seat against the odds, beating Stan Newens in 1983; kept it unexpectedly in 1987 and 1992, and is once more odds against to retain it. "I've been written off before every election, so what else is new? I quite like elections; after knocking on the first door of my campaign and meeting a friendly face, I enjoy them."

Favourite to win the seat is the same Labour opponent he beat last time - by just under 3,000 votes; he describes him as Old Labour, a Clause Four man. Other runners are a Lib Dem with modest hopes, a Scargillite, a British National Party candidate and one each from Independence and Referendum. He thinks they will cancel out each other's insignificant votes.

To Hayes' advantage is the fact that people recognise him, especially after the trouble ... "Hey, you're not going to write about the trouble? I got 400 letters of support from all over the country after the story broke."

How many letters against?

"Three; all from outside Essex. I think if the transgression is sexual rather than financial, constituents forgive and forget."

His other advantage, he maintains, is that "Harlow council is a left- wing incompetent authority which imposes the second highest council tax in the land, is twinned with somewhere in the eastern bloc and, until recently, declared itself a nuclear-free zone. They are so bad I am beginning to wonder whether they were created by Conservative Central Office."

I ask whether his family helps on the campaign. His wife and children go out on leaflet drops on Sundays (never do hard canvassing on Sundays), after which they all go to lunch at a Chinese restaurant. There are no public meetings - a bit old hat are meetings in the computer age - but he is expecting visits from the great and the good: the PM, the Chancellor, Heseltine.

Hayes was a prominent Heseltiney, he and leg-over Colonel Mates and Keith Hampson, who also suffered and overcame a public assault on his private life. During his 14 years, Hayes rose to a term as PPS to Robert Atkins in Northern Ireland, now sits on the Heritage Committee and greatly admires Chairman Kaufman.

Is the Home Secretary coming to speak for you?

For the first time, Hayes assumes the face of a politician: "Mr Howard would be welcome." (Endorsement by Mr Howard is currently believed to be worth 500 votes to Labour.)

The campaign will consist of letting people know "that we are here", identifying the vote and mounting a massive polling day operation to get the voters out. By 8pm on election day Hayes reckons he will know his fate; he looks at the NCR (no carbon required) cards, which tell him how many who have pledged votes were checked through the polling stations. When they start ringing round, he recognises the non runners: "I am going to wash my hair" and "I'm waiting for my husband to come home" are election- speak for "I've changed my mind".

And if he loses his seat?

He was a barrister for six years and might go back; he has written the odd piece for newspapers and magazines - which could have been because he is an MP. "I would miss my friends both in the House and in the Lobby [he spent 13 years chasing lobby correspondents before the situation was reversed last January]. There is nothing as ex as an ex-MP."

When he leaves to go back to his Westminster office, he says: "You may think I am mad but I still believe the Tories will win the Election."

I consider advising him to "buy" Conservative seats at 248 with City Index - but decide against it: to lose your unblemished reputation, your seat and your money, all in a six months, is a consummation devoutly not to be wished.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living