But it's Groundhog day for another reason. Antonia has already blogged the details of this but Charles Steele the Conservative candidate in the ward where I'm living in Oxford spent some time at in one of Her Majesty's local establishments the other week after having a number of names on his nominations queried, apparently by the people who's names they were.
This appears to be an unfortunate way to end one's political career before it starts. Charles Steele was President-elect of OUCA, The Oxford University Conservative association which was famously and tastefully once advertised as the largest youth political society in Europe, since the Hitler Youth. He was also pictured in a number of national newspaper Diary columns dancing hilariously with diminuitive Shadow Cabineteer Alan Duncan.
OUCA is the Alma Mater of William Hague, Boris Johnston and a host of others. But this bastion of modern, compassionate Conservative values, had a brush with the law in suprisingly similar fashion not so long ago.
"Oxford Student > TT2002 Week 7 > News > Election fraud
By Amy Pickvance
It has emerged that signatures were forged on local election nomination forms for Conservative Party candidates against the wishes of Oxford University Conservative Association members.
Christian Langkamp, a finalist at Lincoln College, discovered his name had been used to nominate a Conservative candidate for Carfax in the May 2nd elections after a friend noticed his name on their website. "
I haven't been able to find anwhere on the Web anything that confirms how this sorry tale ended.
I should remember as I was the Labour candidate at that election, finishing behind both the Lib Dems, the two Green candidates and my fellow Labour candidate Tim Waters who picked up 3 votes by going to a residents association meeting on the eve of poll (whilst I was helping out in a key ward elsewhere I hasten to add) and hence beat me into a respectable 6th place. We did, however, leave the Tories trailing in 7th and 8th.
I was also Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club in the same term, as Nick Bennett, the accused candidate in 2002 was President of OUCA. I always thought he was a decent if deluded bloke and therefore was a bit sad to see him get himself into such trouble.
A hilarious incident should have alerted me to the potential for malpractice that year when a Conservative candidate for the ward I lived in at the time rang to beg me to sign his nomination forms as he couldn't find ten people. (The perils of waiting til the holidays to get nominations in a ward that's more than 90% student).
I pointed out that:
1. I was a candidate
2. I was a member of the Labour Party and would be kicked out for nominating him
3. I was in Liverpool
4. I didn't like Tories
He seemed disappointed and asked for the mobile number of a mutual friend to ask him.
So I pointed out that:
1. He was a candidate
2. He was a member of the Labour Party and would be kicked out for nominating him
3. He didn't like Tories
The poor guy sounded desperate, but we have no reason to believe that he didn't succesfully get 10 nominations as none of his ten reported their surprise at being so named.
In another amusing post-script, Nick Bennett the accused Conservative candidate was apparently later made Returning Officer for the Oxford University Students Union elections.