Who’s Best for Chester MP?

Taking a break from studying Constitutional Law, I’ve done a hasty SWOT analysis of the first 4 candidates to put their profiles on Who Can I Vote For? the popular and informative (if sometimes tardy) website that does what it says on the tin. My reasoning is that this lot are at least organised – which is the minimum you want for a Westminster election. Integrity would be great too of course and the ability to do the job. Here’s my thoughts. Full disclosure – I’m a member of one of the featured parties. Can you tell which? I have tried to be fair.

CANDIDATESTRENGTHS – from WCIVF? Twitter/ LinkedIn/ Party profile
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyBest surname; grandfatherly face; local with 42 yrs of customer service in health food retail; 11 yrs teaching computing especially to sheltered housing sector; Border biscuits!
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyExperience as city councillor in Cheshire; established party infrastructure available.  
Rob Herd: Liberal DemocratsExperience as parish councillor in Chester; forties, fit and handsome; teacher & governor; charity trustee; local; established party infrastructure available.   
Samantha Dixon: Labour PartyExperience as city councillor and council leader in Chester, elected by 2,182 votes; local; MBE; established party infrastructure available.  
CANDIDATEWEAKNESSES
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyNew, small party with controversial policies
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyOnly gained 934 votes for post.
Rob Herd: Liberal Democrats 
Samantha Dixon: Labour Party 
CANDIDATEOPPORTUNITIES
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyMay attract independent voters tired of older parties as well as women – as his party supports female safe space and robust child safeguarding – as well as older voters and their carers. Only candidate to post a biscuit preference – so may get the fun vote.
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyMay attract voters who want to vote for a woman, whatever her policies.
Rob Herd: Liberal Democrats 
Samantha Dixon: Labour PartyMay attract voters who want to vote for a woman, whatever her policies. Labour seems to be undergoing a resurgence due to chaos at Westminster.
CANDIDATETHREATS
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyVoters may be put off by what Freedom Alliance is against and not know what it’s for. Dousing a bit of a wildcard: may put off fundamentalists (as would any liberal policy) but a touch of the Dumbledore may attract others, especially the holistic minded.  
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyConservative facing General Election, despite new PM appearing to be a steadier pair of hands that the last one. Women & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.
Rob Herd: Liberal DemocratsLGBT early education/ gender self-ID is the wildcard: divides voters like Marmite. Women & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.
Samantha Dixon: Labour PartyWomen & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.

Summing up – if voters just vote for their party then the experience and qualities of the candidate don’t matter. However, especially with a General Election looming, Chester voters may want to see someone who connects with their issues rather that whatever instructions they’re getting from HQ. In that case, Rob Herd’s flagging up the raw sewage issue may be a winner, although he’s the least experienced of the three legacy party candidates and a Green candidate could still try to corner the environmental market. Voters may be swayed by a local, in which case no-one can beat Chris Quartermaine’s 42 yrs in retail but Samantha Dixon did get a lot of support last May, unlike Liz Wardlaw.

In terms of identity politics, if having a female candidate matters to women then the Labour and Conservative candidates are ahead. However, these days, what may matter more is a party that supports female safe space, single sex sports and robust child safeguarding, in that case Freedom Alliance overtakes them both. Rob Herd also flies the LGBT flag (as well as the EU flag) on his Twitter bio which goes down well with younger voters – but it’s the older generation who actually get their votes in on the day. The tipping point, I feel, is to engage that generation. They tend to vote for legacy parties and for social conservatism.

If Chris Quartermaine can leverage his local connections and work with older people to persuade them to abandon their usual party and vote for Freedom Alliance, the only party wholeheartedly against the isolation they experienced over lockdown, then he may be the dark horse that wins the race. If not, then my money would be on Labour…or possibly Lib Dems because their candidate is just so good-looking!

Chimpanzee looking pensive in Chester Zoo

Thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing his photo Relaxing Monkey into the Public Domain.

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