Comment: Dorothy dilemma approaches the end of the beginning

Comment: Dorothy dilemma approaches the end of the beginning

Comment: Dorothy dilemma approaches the end of the beginning

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Watford’s Lib Dems must be glad that an end to the bruising "will-she-won’t-she" saga is on the horizon.

Since elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill announced she was running for a fourth term at town hall last year, the question over whether she’ll stand for the Lib Dems in the General Election has dogged the party.

This week it emerged the process of selecting the Liberal Democrat’s parliamentary candidate will begin later this month.

The mayor has maintained that if she does apply, she will have to undergo the same selection process as any candidate. But you’d assume the candidacy is hers if she wants it.

Mayor Thornhill is the totem around which the Lib Dems’ rise and eventual takeover of Watford Town Hall is built. No other politician in the town has anything resembling her profile or electoral track record. 

The received wisdom around town hall is that if she applies, it will be a coronation rather than a selection.

Nevertheless, there are a few indicators that suggest the contest may not be such a straightforward affair. 

Firstly, the association’s selection ballot is anonymous. This gives cover to those minded to vote against her. Also, party members would not have to be card-carrying members of the anti-Dorothy brigade to opt for another candidate. 

I imagine more than a few members would be sympathetic to the idea of her staying in situ and focussing on the job she was elected to do until 2018.

And then there is the legacy issue. Over the last three and a bit terms Mayor Dorothy has built a strong record in the town which the party will be able to point to when she finally departs. A revamped town centre, Charter Place rebuilt, the Metropolitan Line coming into the town centre.

There have been losers during her administration and she is not universally loved in the town.

But the resounding majority she won in May (at a time when her party’s poll ratings were in the toilet nationally) show she still has a gravity-defying electoral magnetism in Watford.

Yet if she runs for Parliament while remaining as mayor she will risk seriously damaging this legacy.
This may not be of huge concern to Dorothy, who has said this will be her last term as mayor. It may be more so to local association members who have to pick up the pieces afterwards.

While the risks of her running for parliament are writ large, the benefits are less clear. 

Say Dorothy defies the considerable odds and makes it to Parliament as Watford’s first Lib Dem MP? The local party will then have a mayoral by-election on its hands as well as the task of explaining to voters why Mayor Dorothy ran in 2014 when she only intended to do a year in the job.

Not an appealing prospect for whoever succeeds her. 

If Dorothy loses next year, she’ll have to sit out three more years as the mayor who chose Westminster over Watford.

Either way, a gamble on a risky Parliamentary run will have implications for the Lib Dems’ chances of holding onto the town hall after Dorothy.  

And if a credible challenger comes forward making such an argument, the mayor could have more of a selection fight on her hands than the received wisdom anticipates.

 

Comments (7)

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3:52pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Cuetip says...

Have the bookies stopped taking bets on Dorothy?

Perhaps given the many local Tory defections to the Liberal Party it shouldn't be too difficult to give Boris a ring as he could be in Hertsmere or up the road in Uxbridge.

When you boil it all down, is it a Hobson's choice for Dorothy or the Liberals?
Have the bookies stopped taking bets on Dorothy? Perhaps given the many local Tory defections to the Liberal Party it shouldn't be too difficult to give Boris a ring as he could be in Hertsmere or up the road in Uxbridge. When you boil it all down, is it a Hobson's choice for Dorothy or the Liberals? Cuetip
  • Score: 5

5:13pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Andrew1963 says...

I see Nick Clegg has made the former Liberal Democrat council leaders of Stockport, Bristol, Sheffield and Kirklees (Huddersfield and District) members of the House of Lords. Note it is former council leaders. Clearly Clegg has (1) Overlooked Thornhill when giving out the prizes (2) He must think that you cannot do two political jobs at the same time.
I see Nick Clegg has made the former Liberal Democrat council leaders of Stockport, Bristol, Sheffield and Kirklees (Huddersfield and District) members of the House of Lords. Note it is former council leaders. Clearly Clegg has (1) Overlooked Thornhill when giving out the prizes (2) He must think that you cannot do two political jobs at the same time. Andrew1963
  • Score: 0

5:35pm Fri 8 Aug 14

D_Penn says...

What I do not like about this saga is that there was no reason that Thornhill could not have made a clear decision about her intentions before the Mayoral election earlier this year. It was less than three months ago, for Heaven’s sake.

It’s obvious that she only kept avoiding the question for fear that lack of commitment to the Mayoral position would cost her votes. Once again, it seems that, when it comes to politicians, that their own career path takes precedent over being straight with the public.

It may be a win-win for her that she now has the Mayoral job and can contest the parliamentary seat knowing that even if she loses she can keep the Mayoral role, but I believe that when taking on top political positions in public life, politicians should display a greater integrity and respect the role for which they are standing and unambiguously state before being elected how long a term, as a minimum, that they intend to serve for.

If Thornhill had said before the Mayoral election that she also intended to apply for selection to contest the parliamentary seat in 2015, I would have had little problem with that as at least it would have been an honest statement. People would then have known that she might only remain as Mayor for a year and been able to decide if it would effect their voting intention.

To be honest, I don’t think that if she had stated last May that she had decided to stand for Mayor and for parliament in 2015 that it would have had much effect on the number of votes she received, but letting people know would have been the right thing to do.
What I do not like about this saga is that there was no reason that Thornhill could not have made a clear decision about her intentions before the Mayoral election earlier this year. It was less than three months ago, for Heaven’s sake. It’s obvious that she only kept avoiding the question for fear that lack of commitment to the Mayoral position would cost her votes. Once again, it seems that, when it comes to politicians, that their own career path takes precedent over being straight with the public. It may be a win-win for her that she now has the Mayoral job and can contest the parliamentary seat knowing that even if she loses she can keep the Mayoral role, but I believe that when taking on top political positions in public life, politicians should display a greater integrity and respect the role for which they are standing and unambiguously state before being elected how long a term, as a minimum, that they intend to serve for. If Thornhill had said before the Mayoral election that she also intended to apply for selection to contest the parliamentary seat in 2015, I would have had little problem with that as at least it would have been an honest statement. People would then have known that she might only remain as Mayor for a year and been able to decide if it would effect their voting intention. To be honest, I don’t think that if she had stated last May that she had decided to stand for Mayor and for parliament in 2015 that it would have had much effect on the number of votes she received, but letting people know would have been the right thing to do. D_Penn
  • Score: 3

7:29pm Fri 8 Aug 14

itsafamilyclub!!! says...

D_Penn wrote:
What I do not like about this saga is that there was no reason that Thornhill could not have made a clear decision about her intentions before the Mayoral election earlier this year. It was less than three months ago, for Heaven’s sake.

It’s obvious that she only kept avoiding the question for fear that lack of commitment to the Mayoral position would cost her votes. Once again, it seems that, when it comes to politicians, that their own career path takes precedent over being straight with the public.

It may be a win-win for her that she now has the Mayoral job and can contest the parliamentary seat knowing that even if she loses she can keep the Mayoral role, but I believe that when taking on top political positions in public life, politicians should display a greater integrity and respect the role for which they are standing and unambiguously state before being elected how long a term, as a minimum, that they intend to serve for.

If Thornhill had said before the Mayoral election that she also intended to apply for selection to contest the parliamentary seat in 2015, I would have had little problem with that as at least it would have been an honest statement. People would then have known that she might only remain as Mayor for a year and been able to decide if it would effect their voting intention.

To be honest, I don’t think that if she had stated last May that she had decided to stand for Mayor and for parliament in 2015 that it would have had much effect on the number of votes she received, but letting people know would have been the right thing to do.
No one respects a bad loser Dave, it does you no favours with these sort of comments..

You come across very very bitter but at the end of the day you were the election agent for Phil and he got knocked out first round.

Move on Dave x
[quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: What I do not like about this saga is that there was no reason that Thornhill could not have made a clear decision about her intentions before the Mayoral election earlier this year. It was less than three months ago, for Heaven’s sake. It’s obvious that she only kept avoiding the question for fear that lack of commitment to the Mayoral position would cost her votes. Once again, it seems that, when it comes to politicians, that their own career path takes precedent over being straight with the public. It may be a win-win for her that she now has the Mayoral job and can contest the parliamentary seat knowing that even if she loses she can keep the Mayoral role, but I believe that when taking on top political positions in public life, politicians should display a greater integrity and respect the role for which they are standing and unambiguously state before being elected how long a term, as a minimum, that they intend to serve for. If Thornhill had said before the Mayoral election that she also intended to apply for selection to contest the parliamentary seat in 2015, I would have had little problem with that as at least it would have been an honest statement. People would then have known that she might only remain as Mayor for a year and been able to decide if it would effect their voting intention. To be honest, I don’t think that if she had stated last May that she had decided to stand for Mayor and for parliament in 2015 that it would have had much effect on the number of votes she received, but letting people know would have been the right thing to do.[/p][/quote]No one respects a bad loser Dave, it does you no favours with these sort of comments.. You come across very very bitter but at the end of the day you were the election agent for Phil and he got knocked out first round. Move on Dave x itsafamilyclub!!!
  • Score: 1

2:06pm Sat 9 Aug 14

oldgold says...

Oh dear, Mayor Thornhill is in the same two-jobs-or-one situation as Mayor Boris. However, I know which of them would make a better MP and Mayor: NOT the incompetent Bullingdon Bully Boy!
Oh dear, Mayor Thornhill is in the same two-jobs-or-one situation as Mayor Boris. However, I know which of them would make a better MP and Mayor: NOT the incompetent Bullingdon Bully Boy! oldgold
  • Score: 1

12:42pm Wed 27 Aug 14

Honest Rog says...

Brave move by Dorothy considering that her chum Sal couldn't win the seat in 2010 at the height of discontent with Labour. Now Lib Dems face the abyss. Harrington will win closely chased home by Labour. As for the far-right nationalist mob; well, Watford has a history of rejecting these people. The Greens looked to have established themselves over the past decade or so with Steve Ricket but May proved disappointing for them.
A typical two horse race I'm afraid Dorothy, but good luck anyway. You've certainly got political nous.
Brave move by Dorothy considering that her chum Sal couldn't win the seat in 2010 at the height of discontent with Labour. Now Lib Dems face the abyss. Harrington will win closely chased home by Labour. As for the far-right nationalist mob; well, Watford has a history of rejecting these people. The Greens looked to have established themselves over the past decade or so with Steve Ricket but May proved disappointing for them. A typical two horse race I'm afraid Dorothy, but good luck anyway. You've certainly got political nous. Honest Rog
  • Score: -2

1:18pm Wed 27 Aug 14

oldgold says...

A brave effort to support Harrington, dear 'Honest Rog'. However, I fear that your best efforts won't prevent him being banished to the obscurity whence he came. Even if Lord Ashcroft agrees to try to buy the seat for him, again, Harrington will lose.
A brave effort to support Harrington, dear 'Honest Rog'. However, I fear that your best efforts won't prevent him being banished to the obscurity whence he came. Even if Lord Ashcroft agrees to try to buy the seat for him, again, Harrington will lose. oldgold
  • Score: 2

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