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Tuesday 5th February 2013 | 09:02
Nigel Farage is still wavering but all the parties want to get out of the traps as swiftly as possible in Eastleigh.
The Lib Dems in particular have good cause to move quicker than a speed camera can flash a boy racer. The Huhne is dead, long live the Huhne (in spirit at least), seems to be the message.
Local Eastleigh council leader Keith House told me last night he would not stand, so the field seems pretty wide open.
The party has sent an email to all approved candidates (it's confidential but, hey, a copy just happened to drop into my lap) and it says completed online application forms have to be submitted by 6pm February 6th, ie tomorrow.
Interviews will take place on Friday at Lib Dem HQ and then a shortlist voted on by the local party this Saturday night.
But what most catches the eye is the selection criteria set out by the party for Eastleigh.
Given Huhne's dogged mendacity, some of the criteria may seem more apt than usual. Not having a past that would bring the party 'into disrepute' is pretty prominent.
Also, under 'resilience and drive' [no pun intended on that last one] it wants someone who 'copes effectively with constant pressure and media intrusion, demonstrating stamina and remaining positive in the face of setbacks'.
You really couldn't make it up:
Essential practical criteria
Candidates must meet the following criteria.
• Is available to commit to substantial campaign activity for the constituency from the date of selection until polling day.
• Demonstrates credibility as a candidate for the constituency in question.
• Does not act, and has not in the past acted, in such a way as to risk bringing the Party into disrepute.
Candidates will be marked against these competencies by the shortlisting committee and the by-election panel.
• Presents as approachable, professional and competent and shows an ability to work effectively with the by-election campaign team.
• Inspires and motivates others to work towards common goals and builds trust, confidence and enthusiasm among supporters.
• Communicates clearly, passionately and with conviction through the media and when speaking in public.
• Maximises opportunities to publicise Lib Dem policies and values in their actions and message.
Resilience and Drive
• Copes effectively with constant pressure and media intrusion, demonstrating stamina and remaining positive in the face of setbacks.
• Demonstrates empathy and a commitment to understanding the key issues affecting people in the constituency in question.
Given worries that this is the first serious blue-on-yellow by-election where the bitterness could seriously harm the Coalition, this following section may be particularly relevant too:
If you were to become the candidate, how do you think you might be vulnerable to personal attack by the opposition? How might your campaign counter these attacks?
As they used to say in ancient Greece, Let the games begin. With a full, clean chariot licence.
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