Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ali Miraj – a cautionary tale

I see our old adversary in Watford, former Conservative candidate, Ali Miraj has cropped up again with the same toys-out-of-pram routine that he adopted in response to the local Lib Dem campaign at the last general election.

This latest outburst doesn’t surprise me much. Although many of those Watfordians who met him during the last general election campaign testified that he was charming and articulate, others who spoke to him at any length on policy issues seemed to consider him lightweight.

When under pressure he emerged as both extremely sensitive to criticism from opponents and unable to accept that if he attacked political opponents (the Lib Dems mainly), he could hardly complain if he met a response in kind.

The odd thing is that he clearly believed that after a disappointing result for the Conservatives in Watford – finishing third when elsewhere in Hertfordshire they were gaining seats from Labour – he should be a shoo-in for a safe seat. Or even a peerage. I remember thinking when he got on the Tory A-List, that he would prove too thin-skinned and self-important to find his way into Parliament, however much he was on the surface everything that the Conservatives were looking for in a candidate.

So it has proved. He hit the headlines a little while back complaining at not being short-listed for a safe Conservative seat. He attributed this to a bias in favour of ‘white middle-class male candidates’, only to find the local members selected an Asian woman, Priti Patel. His latest criticisms of David Cameron, while including some valid points, are clearly shot through with personal resentment.

Now this inability to accept the frequent brickbats that politics brings, along with the (much rarer) bouquets, has done for him. Judging by the comments on Conservative Home, I would be amazed if he now ever gets selected for a remotely-winnable Conservative seat, let alone a safe one, or a place in the Lords. Even defection seems an unlikely alternative route to Westminster – his dissing of Cameron would certainly make New Labour nervous of giving him any high-profile role.

Given that my one Conversation with Ali Miraj concluded with him describing me as ‘scum’, I am tempted merely to gloat. But in fact this is all rather a sad story. Clearly he had some ability that might well have enabled him to carve out a political career as a Conservative MP. But he lacked the necessary stoicism and resilience to do so. It is a cautionary tale for any aspiring politician.