James Gray is the Tory MP for Wiltshire North who has fought off deselection attempts since his affair and marriage break-up came to light. I went to Mongolia with James Gray in 2003 and charming company he was. I still have somewhere a photograph of the two of us standing at the edge of the Gobi Desert. I am of an urban working-class background and so was not brought up with horses. I did ride one on that visit (it is more or less compulsory in Mongolia), cautiously, slowly, with someone else leading the horse. Mr Gray (whose father was the Moderator of the Church of Scotland) was much more confident, but was kicked by a horse on that visit. Sometimes confidence can be misplaced. Mr Gray also once rode a horse into the House of Commons entrance yard, which MPs still have the privilege to be allowed to do, and there were not a few female persons around the House who liked watching him do so. Now there is talk of a new deselection attempt, which has been briefed to the Telegraph. This passage in that story struck me:
A number of members of the local Conservative association agree and will write to David Cameron asking him to intervene in a constituency where Mr Gray is defending a 7,000 majority. "In this climate, post expenses, it's seat we could now lose," said a stalwart of the association. "We must act now."
The Conservative Party is every bit as keen on deselecting its MPs as the Labour Party is - Bob Spink sits now as an Independent because of just this - but for entirely different reasons. The Tories will do it, or try to, if they think their MP might lose them the seat, which they think they could hold with a different candidate. Labour will do it if their MP is a winner. After 12 years in government Labour still do not understand power, and they turn savagely on those who do. I wonder if they ever will.