Saturday, May 06, 2017

Who is Neil O'Brien, the Conservatives' new candidate for Haborough?

While I was working at a conference down in Brighton, Harborough Conservatives selected the candidate they hope will replace Sir Edward Garnier as the constituency's MP.

Anyone who turns to Twitter to find out about will be disappointed. Though O'Brien joined in August 2009, he has deleted everything before yesterday's selection meeting.

I don't know if it was the voters of Harborough or the Tory members he was wary of sharing his views with.

Fortunately, it is possible to find out a lot about those views if you go to the Policy Exchange site.

There you will find that when O'Brien was director of the think thank he wrote regular blog posts. You can read them here, starting with the most recent. When I have time I shall go through them myself.

It seems the posts were originally written for the Daily Telegraph and that the figures and tables (which are often important to the argument) were hosted on the paper's site and can no longer be loaded.

O'Brien's background - PPE at Oxford, City PR firm, think tank, special adviser - is so typical of the modern politico that it makes you groan.

But I suspect he is more interesting than that, not least because of his Northern background.

So fixated is he on the question of the North that you wonder how he will get on with a constituency which, at the Market Harborough end at least, increasingly looks to London.

While we wait to find out, two further links in this exercise in Tory kremlinology look useful.

They are a Guardian piece written when George Osborne appointed O'Brien as his policy adviser and Tim Montgomerie's take on the same event for Conservative Home.

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