When Simon and Elizabeth piled out of the car at
the market town of Redcorn they were physically and
mentally exhausted. The Treasurer's wife took them
through to the constituency headquarters and introduced
them both to the agent.
"Now the form is;' began the agent, "that we are
interviewing potential candidates and they'll be seeing
you last." He winked knowingly.
Simon and Elizabeth smiled uncertainly.
"I'm afraid they won't be ready for you for at least
another hour, so you have time for a stroll around the
Simon was glad of the chance to stretch his legs and
take a closer look at Redcorn .... As he walked back past
the shops in the high street, Simon nodded to those
locals who seemed to recognize him .... They sat on the
bench in the market square and read the lead story under
a large picture of Simon.
"Redcorn's next MP?" ran the headline.
The story volunteered the fact that although Simon
Kerslake had to be considered the favorite, Bill Travers,
a local farmer who had been chairman of the county
council the previous year was thought to have outside
Simon began to feel a little sick in the stomach. It
reminded him of the day he had been interviewed at
Coventry Central nearly eight years before. Now that he
was a minister of the Crown he wasr't any less
When he and Elizabeth returned to constituency
headquarters they were informed that only two more
candidates had been seen .... They walked around town
When they returned a third time to constituency
headquarters the fourth candidate was leaving the
interview room.. .."It shouldn't be long now," said the
agent, but it was another forty minutes before they heard
a ripple of applause.
The agent ushered Simon and Elizabeth through, and as
they entered everyone in the room stood. Ministers of the
Crown did not visit Redcorn often.
Simon waited for Elizabeth to be seated before he took
a chair in the centre of the room facing the committee.
He estimated that there were about fifty people present
and they were all staring at him .... In his dark striped
London suit Simon felt out of place....
"Mr. Kerslake will address us for twenty minutes, and
he has kindly agreed to answer questions after that;'
added the chairman....
When he had finished he sat down to respectful
clapping and murmurs.
"Now the minister will take questions;' said the
"Where do you stand on hanging?" scowled a middle-aged
woman in a grey suit seated in the front row.
Simon explained his reasons for being a convinced
A man in a hacking jacket asked: "How do you feel, Mr.
Kerslake, about this year's farm subsidy?"
"It hasn't proved necessary for me to have a great
knowledge of farming in Coventry Central, but if I am
lucky enough to be selected for Redcorn I shall try to
The next question was on Europe, and Simon gave an
unequivocal statement as to his reasons for backing the
Prime Minister in his desire to see Britain as part of
the Common Market.
Simon continued to answer questions on subjects
ranging from trade union reform to violence on television
before the chairman asked, "Are there any more
There was a long silence and just as he was about to
thank Simon the scowling lady in the first row, without
being recognized by the chair, asked what Mr. Kerslake's
views were on abortion.
It was a little after nine when a weary chairman came
out and asked all the candidates if he could have their
attention . . . "My committee wants to thank you for
going through this grim procedure. It has been hard to
decide something that we hope not to have to discuss
again for twenty years." He paused. "The committee are
going to invite Mr. Bill Travers to fight the Redcorn
seat at the next election."'