I have written before of my resignation from the Conservative Party in September 2001, a few days after Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) was elected Leader. I won't rehash all of this here.
Since that time, however, I have maintained cordial relations with my local constituency office and many of my former fellow Party members. On several occasions since then I have been asked if I would consider assisting in various Party activities, specially in the run-up to the last elections for the Scottish Parliament and local government in May 2003. As IDS remained the Leader at the time, it was easy for me to decline - expressing surprise that it could be imagined that I would give any other response, given that I had made my views on the election of IDS perfectly clear. Since then I have been asked on several occasions, particularly since Michael Howard became the Leader, whether I would reconsider. Whilst I have a lot of time for Michael Howard in general (barring the recent fracas over Howard Flight) there is still too much about Conservative social policy that I can have no truck with. With this in mind I have on a number of occasions made it clear to people within the local constituency office, including to the Chairman and to our local list MSP, that I would take no active part nor consider rejoining the Party until after the next General Election. I wish not to be a member for [at least] a full government term.
So I was somewhat surprised when I arrived home earlier this week (from a trip to the gym on Wednesday, I believe) to find a message on my answer-machine from the local list MSP asking me whether I would consider assisting in the run-up to the coming election. Although the good lady is a very nice person, whom I know reasonably well, I think my views have been made clear to her and the constituency Chairman before, so I considered a reply on my part superfluous. Whether any impoliteness relates to my non-response to the answer-phone message, or to her impertinence in recording such a message (given that I have already made clear on numerous occasions what my attitude would be) is perhaps something I am not competent to judge, given the subjectivity of my views on this matter.
Imagine my further surprise, therefore, when I received yet another telephone call today from a Conservative also living in Nairn, whom I have never met before (to my recollection), repeating the request for me to become involved. I can only imagine that she had been requested to contact me by the constituency office in Inverness. Naturally we had a perfectly pleasant conversation, but I am frankly astonished at this persistence. I can only imagine it is a reflection of the paucity of other assistance available. One day, when the Conservative Party once and for all dispenses with its policies of social divisiveness then I will be happy to re-join and give whatever assistance I can. Until then, well they can whistle in the wind.