The Lib Dems choose their candidate for Rochford & Southend East


lib dems broken promises principles for sale

It’s deja vu all over again.

Back in January, I blogged about the lack of, basically, any Lib Dem candidates in Southend. A few days later, a candidate miraculously appeared in the form of former Southend Borough Councillor Paul Collins. A few days ago, I blogged that despite being less than 40 days out from the general election, there was still no candidate for Rochford & Southend East.

Well, surprise surprise, they have now picked a candidate. Step forward Peter Gwizdala. Though, probably, your local party would rather you didn’t.

Before yesterday, I hadn’t heard of Mr Gwizdala. Apparently the local Lib Dem leader — and their Rochford & Southend East candidate back in 2010 — couldn’t remember his name. So he’s a newcomer.

Specifically, he’s a newcomer from Ipswich. His twitter account, silent since 2011, describes him as “Parliamentary Spokesman for Ipswich Liberal Democrats”. Which, in political nerd speak usually means “going to be parliamentary candidate”. Except he’s not. The Lib Dem candidate for Ipswich is a woman by the name of Chika Akinwale. And when you search for Peter Gwizdala on Ipswich Liberal Democrats’ website, this is what you get:

ipswich lib dems peter gwizdala

Was there a falling out? Was he just a Walter Mitty? Who knows?

Mr Gwizdala also keeps a blog. Or kept. Like his Twitter account, he hasn’t posted to it in a good long while. In October 2012, he posted a bizarre blog about the Lib Dems’ tuition fees pledge, in which he says:

The Pledge said that MP’s would vote against the Government in terms of any rise in tuition fees. Well, that pledge becomes defunct when you become the Government.

Which is an interesting perspective. I wonder how it will sell to voters, that Mr Gwizdala apparently believes that any promises made in an election are meaningless and cast aside if you, err, win. Definite vote winner there…

But that, bizarre though it is, is not the weirdest of the three posts on his blog. Witness this, on Jimmy Savile:

Am I the only one who thinks that the furore surrounding the allegations against the late Jimmy Saville [sic] has got a bit out of hand? …let us not forget that, so far, none of these allegations have been proven.

I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to leave that there.

For anyone wondering, like I was, whether this is some over-elaborate April Fool’s prank from the party whose seemingly-drunk press officers brought us “Liberal Demo-cats“. It’s not. Peter Gwizdala really is the parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East, a seat where in 2010 some 8,000 people voted Lib Dem:

rochford & southend east lib dem candidate

I know that the local Lib Dems were desperate. My blogs were no doubt winding up their activist, and I know that Graham Longley repeatedly refused to be the candidate again (Why should he? He’s deputy leader of the council, cabinet member for photo opportunities Enterprise, Tourism & Economic Development. Why should he want any part in the whomping in store for the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate -Ed). But is this the best they could muster?

A few days ago, I asked whether Southend Liberal Democrats had given up. This selection seems to be a clear and resounding answer. That answer, I would say, is “Yes.”

UPDATE:  Mr Gwizdala’s blog has now disappeared into the digital netherworld. One might almost thing he was ashamed or embarrassed about what he has said. Or, perhaps, that people are not likely to vote for someone who has admitted that his promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

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