There is something of Ground Hog Day about elections in "safe" constituencies - safe, that is, for the regular winner. For the regular loser in such a seat, nothing much changes. No voice; no representation; invisibility. Coastal and rural constituencies typically remain in Tory hands, decade after decade, so what are we Labour voters to do? We may mount a campaign of sorts, with few resources and little support, only to achieve yet another failure. Not only does the hard work of activists and candidates prove fruitless but those voters who, against the current, give their ticks to the inevitable loser give only false cheer to the campaigners and are then not represented. This presents a strong case for PR; but failing this, is there nothing we can do in our rural isolation to stimulate change?
In Wealden constituency, one which is typical of this dilemma, we have just selected a candidate to fight the General Election on May, who brings an approach which seems worth sharing, in case its precedent may help others selecting PPCs. Solomon Curtis, our appointee, is young. He sees that his youth equips him with one particular advantage: the ability to communicate with his peers. Young people? In East Sussex? Not perhaps in the Labour Party of today but what about tomorrow? Older candidates may carry the baggage of experience but they will be of limited appeal to a new generation of voters. The older Labour voter will tick his box anyway.
We are excited by the idea of building Labour afresh, from the students and NEETs of our towns and villages. This may not win us seats in the forthcoming campaign nor even the one after; but it could bring new activism to bear, raise the profile of Labour in apparently barren soil and build a new core of Labour voters who may gradually challenge the complacency of the land-owning classes. The future is theirs anyway, so let them make it the way they want it. We old oaks should nurture these energetic acorns.