I am a huge fan of your Mr Pecksniff, but I disagree with him on one point. I believe that it was absolutely right for the three main progressive parties not to contest last week’s byelection in Southend West, following the murder of Sir David Amess.
I am thinking back to 2016’s byelection in Batley and Spen, when other parties left the field clear for Labour’s Tracy Brabin to replace her murdered colleague Jo Cox. Had the progressive parties stood candidates in Southend West we would have been open to the charge of ‘one rule for them, one rule for us’: the exact phrase that Independent journalist James Moore, writing in January, described as ‘Boris Johnson’s epitaph’.
I agree that thousands of Southend residents were frustrated to find no candidate that they could in all conscience vote for, and had I lived there I would have been one of them. I would, however, like to suggest as a solution a small change to be added to those already proposed for the much-needed Great Reform. When I was a student at Bristol University in the 1980s, every student union ballot paper included an elusive character known as RON: Re-Open Nominations. Is it far-fetched to imagine that, had such a rule been in place in Southend West last Thursday, RON might have beaten Anna Firth?
Dr Clare Sansom
Cherry Hinton, Cambridge