‘And now I am the ruler of the Queen’s Navee.”

In Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta HMS Pinafore,’ the First Lord of the Admiralty sings a song explaining how you get to rule the British Navy.  You start, he explains, by being apprenticed to a legal firm and work your way up to being sent by a pocket borough into parliament.  A good example of the pocket borough approach was evidenced the other day when Babel’s Whigs (Provincial Liberals) announced their new candidate for the October election. Their previous choice had told us she would not be running because of health problems.

The venue for the new prospective candidate’s announcement was a busy coffee shop.  At that time of the morning, you could count on the place being better than half full.  Adding six or seven Whigs, the candidate and the Liberal Party’s Ontario campaign chairman and his retainers to the numbers as well as a few of Babel’s news media, it would feel like a good crowd.  The party’s campaign chairman made the announcement.  He told the coffee drinkers how lucky they were to have such a stalwart candidate in Babel.  The incumbent Member of the Provincial Parliament for Babel was also there to say how pleased she was to have such a fine candidate to carry on her tradition.

Now there is a nicety in organized politics, these days, known as a nomination meeting.  Riding associations often call these meetings for the purpose of choosing their candidate.  It was announced that such a meeting will be called sometime next month—when they get around to it.

What was unusual about this coffee cloche is the presence of the provincial campaign chairman.  The campaign chair is chosen by the leader of the party—in this case, the Premier—to manage the party’s campaign across the province.  To be introduced to the riding by this person is a considerable leg up in the process of getting nominated.

If you were a person considering putting your name forward as a potential candidate for the Liberal Party in Babel, what would you think?  Would you want to embarrass the Premier’s campaign guy by making him look silly?  Would you want to earn the ill-will of the incumbent MPP by rejecting her choice of candidate?

And that is life in a pocket borough.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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