I ought to declare an interest: Mark is one of my oldest friends, and was my best man. (He insisted on organising my stag night in Reykjavik, determined that we should celebrate Iceland’s status outside the EU.)
In an age when many politicians see preferment as an end in itself, Mark is refreshingly independent: an unapologetic tax-cutter (he was once one of Britain’s top-rated economists), a radical libertarian, a localist and an opponent of EU membership. Unsurprisingly, not everyone in the party hierarchy was keen on his candidature.
He is now in the happy position of having secured the Tory nomination with no help – indeed, considerable opposition – from the Conservative machine. The Whips would doubtless have preferred someone more malleable; but the Medway Tories couldn’t have done better. During the final round, Mark made a point of telling activists that, before they voted, they should be aware that he disagreed with the party line on several issues; they elected him outright on the first ballot.
Originally posted 28th July 2008 on Daniel Hannan’s Telegraph blog – Click Here to view the original